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Towards an ASEAN Peoples Gender Mainstreaming Score Card: From International, Inter-Governmental Developments to Regional, Peoples Responses

Puspa Delima Amri Nikki Briones Medelina Hendytio

Through persistent lobbying and imaginative initiatives, much has been achieved at the Inter-governmental Level in the last 3 decades. How can the ASEAN Peoples Assembly capitalize on these achievements? How can we safeguard womens interests and hold states accountable to their commitments? This paper aims to show: First, the global context and current situation, second, the challenge for APA, and third, our recommendations on courses of action, specifically on an ASEAN Peoples Gender Mainstreaming Monitoring Mechanism.

The Global Scenario As can be seen in Table 1, from the First World Conference on women in 1975, to the fourth world conference in Beijing in 1995, women have successfully brought their agenda to UN Conferences. This is not just limited to womens conferences though, through the years, it has become apparent that womens issues can no longer be separated from other spheres. At the Rio summit in 1992, the Vienna Conference in 1993, and Cairo Conference in 1994, womens issues were linked to the environment, human rights and population and development, to name just a few. By 1995, in Beijing, gender mainstreaming had emerged as a global strategy for achieving gender equality. Gender mainstreaming is a strategy to attain gender equity and equality to ensure equal access to resources, participation, control of decision-making and benefits of development policies. Gender mainstreaming is a departure from previous conceptions in that it views gender as not just another issue to be put on agenda, but rather, see it as a perspective or a gender lens which should be mainstreamed into research, planning, and policy-making. 187 states signed the Platform of Action on gender mainstreaming. This is a significant achievement in


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itself. But this achievement can only have meaning if signatory states are made to hold true to their commitments.

Table 1. Some Key Inter-Governmental Conferences on Women from 19752000 Year 1975 1975 1979 Developments at the Inter-governmental Level First World Conference on Women, Mexico International Year of Women, start of United Nations Decade for Women UN General Assembly passed a landmark resolution, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination and Violence Against Women (CEDAW) Second World Conference on Women, Copenhagen Third World Conference on Women, Nairobi Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women Rio Earth Summit and the Global Action for Women Towards Sustainable Development Declaration on Elimination of Violence Against Women Cairo Conferences on Population: Chapter IV of the Programme of Action: Gender Equality, Equity and Empowerment of Women Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing Platform of Action Signed by 187 States Beijing + 5: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st Century 23rd Special Session of the General Assembly

1980 1985

1992 1993 1994 1995 2000

Globally, womens movements have devised means of pushing for womens issues and causes. For example, after the 1985 Nairobi Conference, the International Womens Action Rights Watch was formed to monitor, analyze and encourage reform in accordance with the 1979 CEDAW. The network is backed by a substantial database. In preparation for the Rio Summit in 1992, the Womens Environment and Development Organization or WEDO, formed a parallel forum, the Womens Caucus, which analyzed developments at the Rio Summit, and lobbied as it happened. A more imaginative effort was the Global Tribunal on Violation of Womens Rights, which was a dramatic mechanism of bringing womens testimonies to the world stage. These are just three of numerous initiatives throughout the years. As it is, we have at our disposal, several existing instruments and mechanisms to draw from. The IWRAW mentioned earlier has a substantial database. At the UN level, an elaborate and comprehensive Gender Development Index has been developed, there are materials used by the Commission on the Status of Women,

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and at the regional level, expert panels of UNESCAP have created indicators to monitor national compliance with commitments made in Beijing. In summary, this is the current situation: 1) There have been significant achievements at the intergovernmental level with 187 signatories in Beijing. 2) There is a global strategy in place, that of gender mainstreaming. 3) Womens movements have devised creative strategies of lobbying. 4) There are existing instruments and mechanisms we can draw from.

The Challenge for the ASEAN Peoples Assembly From the global context, let us now shift to a regional perspective and focus on APA. Gender issues has been part of APA, from Panel discussions and a PostAPA workshop on gender issues. APA meetings underlined the necessity to promote the inclusion of gender sensitivity analysis in the mainstream policymaking within the ASEAN region specially with the Asian crisis in 1997. There is increasing evidence that the ongoing processes of economic and political restructuring have heightened womens vulnerabilities, intensifying their poverty. Democratization also poses challenges to women, particularly in terms of their status and roles in society. The post 9/11 world order and the Iraq war posed actions threats to the human security of Islamic women in various parts of the world. All these crucial issues were discussed intensively in APA meetings. While participants shared their country experiences with gender mainstreaming and discussed the various successes and setbacks in each country. In general, all shared a common view on the following two points. The first one was that in most countries, there is a gap between the legal framework and commitments and the actual practice. The second point was the recognition of the lack of a regional network to promote gender mainstreaming in Southeast Asia. In Bali last year, APA endeavored to put more structured processes in place to encompass APA network activities. One function of APA is to serve as a regional watchdog and producing scorecards or indicators was identified as one way to fulfill this function. But the challenges for APA is to come up with a scorecard that compliments, and doesnt duplicate other existing efforts. What would make this scorecard different? In the spirit of a Peoples Assembly, we endeavored to adopt an existing mechanism in a way that will make it easier for more organizations to participate. Existing indicators can sometimes be daunting in their wide scope or technical terminology so we must reduce the scope, and simplify the words. This way, we can have a more representative instrument in the sense that more people can participate in its use. Another important aspect of the APA is to give voice to the people. For this reason, we felt that a series of perceptive indicators should also be created alongside more objective checklists. Perceptive indicators are designed to measure how NGOs evaluate efforts of national governments to comply with their commitments. It is really peoples organizations, NGOs and civil society organizations that work on the ground and have a feel for the real situation. They


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are thus in a special position to assess how effectively governments are complying with their commitments. Finally, as a further innovation, proposals given must have a narrative element. Most existing score cards are limited to numerical components. We feel that space must be given for POs and NGOs to narrate their justifications for the scores they give to their governments. Narrations make room for anecdotal evidence and explanations that may better capture the real situation than a numerical representation can. The process is an end in itself. A simple enough score card can be spread to more people, thus generating a representative opinion from organizations that are in a unique position to assess the real situation. Compiling the different reports and narratives can help countries learn from each others experiences and raise regional consciousness on the status of gender mainstreaming in the ASEAN. Finally, the results can be shared in Track I and Track II arenas and provide valuable feedback. The possibilities are encouraging. If this effort can be sustained and gain credibility, it can be an effective tool to pressure governments to perform better. There may even be a possibility of creating a new indicator to be added to the existing Gender Development Indexwho knows, maybe sometime soon we can see a Peoples Evaluation Index to reflect how the people have ranked their governments efforts on gender mainstreaming.

Proposals for an ASEAN Peoples Gender Mainstreaming Score Card Last year, the post-APA gender workshop was held to bring gender champions together to brainstorm on possible collective activities. Since then, our team was formed, we researched on existing regional mechanisms, circulated proposals by email, consulted with other gender champions at a lunch at the Asia-Pacific Roundtable, and as an end result, for the purpose of this APA meeting, we came up with actual proposals to monitor governments implementation of their commitments with regard to gender mainstreaming. We based all the proposals on a set of indicators developed by UNESCAP, which is called the Framework for Gender Indicators of the Expert Group Meeting on Regional Implementation and Monitoring of the Beijing Platform of Action and Beijing + 5. Table 2 shows the indicators developed by UNESCAP. 144 total indicators would be too difficult to work on for peoples organizations and NGOs that are already loaded with their own work to do. To make this score card project feasible, we identified sections that can be worked on by most APA participants namely section H, M and N, on Institutional and Financial Mechanisms as highlighted in the table.

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Table 2. Summary of UNESCAP Framework for Gender Indicators Section A B C D E F G H I J K L M N Total Indicators 9 20 16 9 5 24 9 8 10 7 7 16 2 2 144 Strategic Objectives Women and Poverty Education and Training of Women Women and Health Violence Against Women Women and Armed Conflict Women and the Economy Women in Power and Decision-Making Institutional Mechanism for the Advancement of Women Human Rights of Women Women and Media Women and the Environment The Girl Child Institutional Mechanisms Financial Arrangements

Proposal 1: Simple Score Card This proposed Score Card is based on 10 indicators with corresponding perceptive indicators for each. For example: 1 indicator asks if there is a National Machinery for the Advancement of Women? A yes answer would earn a score. As a perspective indicator, we ask the NGOs whether this National Commission is functioning effectively. The advantage of this simple scorecard is that it is easy to use and can be spread out and hopefully, recovered more easily. Since it is quite general, it can create room for the diversity of experiences in different ASEAN countries. The disadvantage of this is that it provides takes only a brief snapshot and is quite limited both in scope and depth. For a first attempt, it may be enough. Proposal 2: Detailed Score Card The next proposal is based on the more detailed Framework created by UNESCAP. The strategic objectives have been broken down to more specific questions. Though this proposed score card is a little harder to accomplish than the simple score card, it does have the advantage of providing a more in depth perspective. The detailed indicators however, can sometimes be too specific and not easily applicable to all countries. For example, it asks if a Gender Caucus within parliament exists, in some cases, other countries do have bodies working with congress from outsidedoes this mean they do not earn a point because they are not specifically within parliament? This may create difficulties in scoring. Another disadvantage is that participants in this project may find the form too complicated and be delayed in completing the scorecard.


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This presentation is only an update and introduction of our efforts. Fortunately, gender champions from the ASEAN region have been invited to the post-APA gender workshop to discuss and work on these proposals further. The important thing is to come together, engage in dialogue, and decide on a plan for collective action. Hopefully, we can galvanize the ASEAN womens movement, through APA networking activities, to serve as a regional watchdog to reckon with.

Progress of Gender Equality in Vietnam in Recent Years

Pham Hoai Giang

Introduction I had the great honor to attend APA 2000 in Batam, Indonesia. I was very impressed with that assembly, especially with the panel on Empowerment of Women that I attended and where I gave a presentation. Many panelists then had pointed out factors that relate to power and empowerment of women that to some extent influence gender mainstreaming in their respective countries. From that time till now, there have been many changes and events that happened in the world, the region differently influencing gender mainstreaming in different countries in the region.

Equality Between Men and Women in Vietnam In Vietnam, the term gender was introduced only since the early 1990s but the idea of equality between men and women has been taken as one of the revolutionary goals of Vietnam since 1930. Pursuant to this goal, Vietnam was one of the few countries in the world that early on signed the UN Convention against All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1981 and gradually internalized it into current Vietnamese laws and bylaws. Gender Mainstreaming in Contemporary Policies Gender equality is seen as an essential element in the countrys development and therefore, efforts have been made to mainstream gender into national development plans and strategy.

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National Policy - In 2002, the Prime Minister approved the National Strategy for the Advancement of Women in Vietnam to 2010 and the National Plan of Action to 2005 ensuring gender equality in labor and employment, education, healthcare, and improving the quality and efficiency of womens activities in politics, economics, culture, and society. The National Comprehensive Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy (CPRGS) for 2001-2010 - This is seen by gender experts in Vietnam as the best policy document in terms of gender integration. This strategy is based on the Socio-Economic Development Strategy 2001-2010 and the 10 year sectoral strategy integrating the components of all other sectoral strategies by giving them a focus on poverty, addressing cross sectoral issues and identifying priorities. The gender responsiveness of this strategy is very meaningful to the gender mainstreaming in Vietnam. However, as in many other countries, traditional gender bias still exists. Therefore, reinforcement of womens legal rights is very important. Among womens rights, the right to vote and stand for election is provided for in the 1992 Constitution, the 1997 Law on the Election of Deputies to the National Assembly, and the 1994 Law on Election of Deputies to the Peoples Councils. The Strategy for the Advancement of Women in Vietnam and the revised Election Law These specified the agency responsible for determining the proportion of women in the countrys elected bodies as well as prescribed their numbers. Accordingly, they stipulated that: the Vietnam Womens Union (VWU) would be responsible for recommending a reasonable number of women deputies at the national assembly; in the Party leadership at all levels there must be at least 15 percent women, in the XIth National Assembly (NA) 30 percent must be women, and in the XIIth NA, 33 percent. By 2005 in all organizations and institutions with more than 30 percent women laborers, there must be women representative in the leadership. However, the proportion of female representatives in elected bodies is still low, not commensurate with womens capacity and desire. The proportion of women in the present term of the National Assembly is only 27.31 percent which is lower than the abovementioned target, but it is already 1.09 percent higher than the previous one. The right to take part in state management was already stipulated in the 1992 Constitution and the Ordinance on Public Servants approved by the National Assemblys Standing Committee on 26 February 1998. It is a fact that women are present at virtually all state administrative agencies and enterprises. Women make up 50.3 percent of salaried employees and 32.4 percent of enterprise owners and managers. The Regulations on Democracy in Communes and Offices - These regulations have been implemented in all localities and State organs. These help enhance womens participation in designing, executing, and supervising State policies in all levels and sectors. It is a fact that women have been enabled to participate directly or through their representatives, namely the Boards of Womens Affairs in State institutions and enterprises or the local chapters of the Womens Union. However, the proportion of female managers and leaders remains small, especially at the grassroots level. In general, womens capabilities are still lower


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than those of men and as a result, womens participation in the elaboration, implementation, and supervision of State policies in communities is limited. In addition, under difficult economic conditions and negative effects of the market mechanism, there are women who are reluctant to take part in social activities. At present, the VWU is evaluating the implementation of the Partys Direction # 37 on the promotion of womens cadres for amendment and changes. Along the countrys common trend of democratization, in recent years more nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) on women have come into being in Vietnam. It is encouraging to see that the number of women holding leading positions in mass organizations and associations is increasing. They now account for 30 percent in executive boards at all levels. These are important core activities of the womens movements and the source of future female potential leaders. Additional Measures to Eliminate Gender Inequality - In recent years, Vietnam continued taking additional measures to eliminate gender prejudices and gradually change the perception about the traditional role of Vietnamese men and women. It is the Party and State of Vietnams policy to build an advanced culture deeply imbued with national identity with a view to raising the populations awareness, getting more access to updated information and knowledge, eliminating backward customs including the perception of holding men in high esteem and women in inferior positions. Raising Gender Awareness - An outstanding development in the last years is gender awareness-raising among government officials, social organizations, and the population in general. The National Committee for the Advancement of Women in Vietnam in coordination with the Womens Union recently compiled Gender Mainstreaming Facilitation Manual and Gender Mainstreaming Guideline. These documents will serve gender trainers and government employees to mainstream gender issues into training and making policies and strategies for development. Along that line, training courses on gender have been organized in various ministries, branches, and central agencies and in most provinces and cities throughout the country. Each branch and sector deals with specific subjects for their target group. For instance, the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs held training courses for the 300 staff on Womens Rights to Work, the Vietnam Labor Confederation for its 1,500 staff on Gender Equality in work and employment, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has a project to improve capacity to formulate strategy and plan to integrate gender into strategies, programs, projects at all levels and stages. The Government Personnel and Organization Commission held training courses on gender issues in public service. Gender dimension has been integrated in the training program for senior Party officials at the Ho Chi Minh Political Academy. A number of universities and local colleges have begun to introduce the issue of gender in their research and learning programs.

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Concluding Statement These are some progress of gender mainstreaming in Vietnam in recent years that I want to share with you as I look forward to learn from you all. I wish you all good health.

Lao Women in Development

Douangchanh Vanthanouvong

Background The Lao PDR is a small landlocked country in Southeast Asia. Its land area is 236,800 square kilometers and population is estimated to be 4.6 million with rich natural resources in forests, watersheds, and minerals. The country is divided into 18 provinces including Vientiane Municipality, which is an administrative prefecture on the same level as a province. With a low population density at 19 persons per km, there are only a few landless people. The majority of the land is hilly or mountainous rugged terrain. It is estimated that more than 85 percent of the population of the Lao PDR is agricultural. The infant mortality rate is 125 per 1000; the under-five child mortality rate stands at 182 per 1000 births; the maternal mortality rate is 656 per 100,000, while the total fertility rate is 6.8 Over half of the adult population (67 percent of men and 41 percent of women) has attained literacy; among ethnic minority women of reproductive age only 28 percent are literate. Lao PDR is an ethnically diverse country of over 47 major ethnic groups and many subgroups. Officially, there are five major language groups. Variations in locality (urban, peri-urban, rural, remote) can significantly affect family economies, culture, and gender roles. Proximity and access to transport, water, arable land, markets, schools, medical facilities, and government services bear heavily on peoples well-being and production and consumption patterns. Since 1986, the Lao PDR has undergone a series of economic reforms called the New Economic Mechanism (NEM) to move gradually from a centrally-planned to a market economy. Economic reforms have included deregulating prices and much of the distribution of goods and services, opening trade and foreign investment, eliminating most direct subsidies, strengthening the role of the private sector, downsizing the civil service, and improving macroeconomic management.


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The NEM has improved investment and business opportunities, stimulated private productivity and markets, reduced inflation and stabilized the foreign exchange rate, and strengthened regional economic cooperation and external relations. Reforms have also highlighted the same economic pressure points.

Social Position of Women During the past decade of reforms, women of Lao PDR have broken numerous cultural and economic barriers to forge significant roles in the countrys development. Gradually, the concept that women can and should be involved in development has penetrated many sectors. Laws and regulations now guarantee some of womens specific rights. While equal gender rights are guarantied in the 1991 Constitution, the proposition that equitable gender opportunity can significantly enhance socioeconomic development has just begun to enter Lao policy formulation and development thinking. Many government policy makers acknowledge that womens participation in mainstream development and governance is crucial for achieving sustainable growth with equity in the Lao PDR, and also makes good economic census. As in many countries, women are the driving force behind the success or failure of vital social infrastructure components-improved schools, health services, birth-spacing programs, food security, and nutrition. Less clear, however, is how womens participation in development programs can ensure that women are afforded equitable opportunities with men in education, skills training, employment, leadership, and financial resources during this period of economic transition. How can future development intervention reverse the growing gender disparities in education, literacy, job opportunities, training, and leadership selection? How can the government and international donors monitor the impacts of the new market economy on women and their families? Social Status Regardless of ethnicity, it is the common perception of both genders that the role of women in the familys social well-being and economy is significant. Numerous micro-studies and household profiles have shown that women manage the household, are the guardians of culture and binders of society, ensure family food security, usually earn the cash income (through small livestock, raising, weaving, and foraging), and perform at least half of household agricultural production and consumption tasks. By tradition, men take the lead in public affairs and women stay in the background. The number of women in positions of leadership and management is not commensurate with their labor-force participation rate. Such cultural perception also permeates decisions about female child education and vocations. In recent years, some women have begun to challenge the traditional reference to

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men, to call for gender equity in education, training, and job opportunities, and for gender awareness seminars in the workplace. Gender status and conditions vary greatly according to the locale (i.e., urban, peri-urban, rural and remote). The new market-oriented economy is somewhat broadening the economic and social horizons of women living in the accessible lowlands and the peri-urban and urban centers. Numerous women have initiated formal and informal small enterprises, rural-to-urban trading operations, and income-generating activities. These women who tend to be more educated and exposed to outside influences are now showing signs of becoming not only the crucial household managers, but also key micro-economic stimulators of development. Population and Life Expectancy Women of reproductive age (15-49 years) represent 23 percent of the female population. Mothers of young children of reproductive age, aged between 20 and 44 years, comprise 13 percent of the total population. Life expectancy at birth is 53 years for females and 50 years for males. High rates of alcoholism and smoking among men and the effects of the previous war may account for these differences. Life expectancy rates vary dramatically with the locale. Marriage The 1991 Law on Family sets the marital age for both women and men at 18 years; in special cases, this can be reduced to a limit of 15 years. Women tend to marry earlier than men, and are four times more likely than men to be divorced or widowed in their lifetimes. Twenty to 49 percent of women are married, 3 percent are divorced, and 2 percent are widowed. Twenty-five percent of all women over age 40 are widows or divorcees, and are likely to be single heads of households today. Lao gender specialists claim the divorce rate has risen dramatically in recent years as a result of wives not tolerating the extra-marital and polygamous relationships assumed by their husbands. The Lao Womens Union (LWU) is conducting seminars on the Family Law and other laws relevant to women, including for law enforcement officials. The Female Child Among all ethnic groups the girl child from the age of seven is expected to perform numerous household and child care chores - far more than a male child - thereby reducing her time and access to schooling. With a rapidly changing society, the growing cheap labor market, the influence of commercial television, and the opening of the commercial market and borders, female girl children face several new problems.


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The number of rural girls (and boys) under 15 years coming alone to the cities to work as laborers or in the service industry has increased substantially. Among some ethnic minority groups, girls (12-13 years) are sexually exploited within their villages.They are offered to adult men in the village, or to visitors. Legal Rights and Political Representation Women in Lao PDR have been accorded the legal right to participated in governance and politics by the 1990 Constitution, which states: Men and women are equal in all aspects, namely politics, culture, social and family affairs. Nevertheless, because of traditional sociocultural barriers and low education levels, women rarely attain political and leadership positions. The number of women in senior policy and government positions remains modest (Table 1).

Table 1. Women in Senior Policy and Government Policy Positions Position in Government 4 Number of Positions 0 1 2 3 1 0 8 1 3

Ministers Minister-equivalent (LWU president) Vice ministers Vice ministers-equivalent (2 LWU vice presidents) Members of the Central Committee of the Lao Revolutionary Party (out of 65) Members of the Lao Revolutionary Partys Politburo Representatives of the National Assembly (out of 85) Provincial governors or vice governors Head of provincial or district technical department

The number of female participants in the elected National Assembly is 8 out of 85, and in the selected Party Central Committee 4 out of 65. At the village, district, and provincial levels, women commonly hold only one seat on the governing committee. This is because the directors of provincial and district departments who make up these committees are almost exclusively men. To address this imbalance, the government, with strong urging from the Party and LWU began a policy in late 1995 urging all levels of government to promote women and ethnic minorities into the ranks of leadership and decision making. Women are beginning to be elected or selected as the heads or vice heads of villages and provincial and district departments.

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Health, Family Planning, and Nutrition The health care situation of the Lao PDR is usually described as in crisis, particularly for rural women and their children. The incidence of malaria also rises dramatically within rural areas. Malaria, an especially high-risk and lifethreatening problem for pregnant mothers and children, has increased nationally. Reproduction and Family Planning - The Lao PDRs total fertility rate stands at about 6.8 - one of the highest in the world. The median age for the first birth is currently 18.4 years. Fourteen percent of young married women aged 15-19 start to bear children. Rural women bear an average of two more children than urban women, and the fertility rate of uneducated women is significantly higher than women with secondary education. To reverse the adverse effects of short birth intervals on the health of mothers and children, to promote safe motherhood, and to reduce the incidence of low birth- weight babies, and malnutrition, the government moved in 1988 from a pronatalist position to acceptance of the need for birth spacing. More recently, the government accepted the concept of family planning mandating the work to the IMCH and the LWU. Maternal and Family Health - Women and their families face numerous preventable diseases, such as malaria, measles, tuberculosis, diarrhea, dysentery, goiter, and blindness. To improve the health care of women and their children, most health specialists and foreign donors advocate increased focus on prevention and grassroots action, rather than simply expanding current hospital facilities, as in the past. Emerging discussions center around the following issues: building a network of district-based mobile primary health care units to assist rural areas with immunization, maternal, prenatal and postnatal care, and nutrition and health care information dissemination; improving the local midwifery system by increasing the number of trained traditional birth attendants (TBAs) and upgrading the skills of veteran TBAs; training and equipping village medical volunteers; expanding the cluster-village dispensary system; ensuring an adequate supply of standard-quality essential drugs, such as the village medical revolving fund system used by UNICEF and others, promoting systems which supply medicines regularly to the village; and promoting community participation and self-help processes.

Nutrition and Food Security - One-third of Lao household have insufficient food intake, with at least 10 percent of the adults, especially women, being in a state of high chronic energy deficit. In addition to malnutrition problems, the Lao PDR suffers from severe dietary deficits in three micronutrients - iodine, iron and vitamin A - causing long-term and often undiagnosed health problems which place women and children at risk.


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The condition is easily preventable by iodizing salt supplies. In June 1995 Decree 42/PM was issued to require all salt used locally or exported to be iodized. Among the problems of vitamin A deficiency, the Lao study found night blindness in 11.5 percent of lactating women, 5.0 percent of women of childbearing age, and 0.7 percent of children (ages 24-71 months). As an immediate intervention, UNICEF is providing vitamin A tablets for distribution during national vaccination efforts. Women in the Lao PDR are primarily responsible for family food security, but are rarely involved in consultations on formulating national food policy. There is a strong need for food security to become a gender-sensitive, integrated development issue. Sexually Transmitted Diseases and HIV/AIDs - Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as gonorrhea, syphilis, and others are prevalent in the Lao PDR where sexual risk behavior among men is significant. Gonorrhea often causes blindness in newborns. Symptoms in women usually go unnoticed, raising the risk of reproductive tract cancer. Further, contracting an STD increases dramatically the risk of infection with HIV as much as 9 times. The main age group affected are those who are 20-29 years. Thousands of Lao, males and females, are moving from subsistence farming into migrant wage labor. Many travelers cross the Thai border daily in search of employment. Some women with low education, few job skills, and little opportunity are taking up commercial or informal sex-work. Knowledge and use of condoms by males and females remains marginal. Education and Training Education - The education of girls and women can produce high rates of economic and social returns for the Lao PDR. The need to optimize participation of women in the workforce is critical. In this regard, the government initiated a National Education for all Action Plan in 1990. The total number of children of primary school age currently enrolled as a percentage of the total number of 6-10 year olds is 60 percent, of which only 30 percent complete primary school. Gender disparities in school attendance begin at about age 8, widening throughout adolescence. The gender imbalance is even more striking among the poorest children, with more than half of the boys enrolled, but only 37 percent of the girls. A 1993 UNESCO/World Education study revealed four barriers to the participation of women and girls in education in Lao PDR: family economics, lack of time away from family maintenance and subsistence tasks, lack of perceived benefits from education, and lack of appropriate educational services. The majority of girls do not complete elementary school. The LWU with the Ministry of Education is placing strong emphasis on NFE education activities, funded by international organizations and NGOs. Vocational Training - Of about 48,000 trainees, 93.32 percent were women, of which 57 percent studied in the medical field. On-the-job training supported by the

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government and international organizations is currently an integral component of many projects.

Economic Position of Women In the agricultural sector, the new economic reforms have less impact on the development of women and their families, as the farm-to-market infrastructure (roads, commercial outlets, and financial networks) is still lacking. The open door policy on socio-economic development has had varying results and social implications for women. Lao women comprise about 51 percent of the population and 50 percent of the total labor force. Official statistics suggest women comprise 33 percent of the unemployed and are far less likely to be unemployed (1.73 percent) than men (3.39 percent). Females comprise only 10 percent of managerial work force. In occupations for professionals, skilled craft and trades workers, and plant and machine operators, there are one-third fewer females than males. Women fair better as technicians. For services, unskilled work, and elementary jobs, women predominate. Agriculture Eighty-five percent of women are farmers, producing mostly for household consumption. Even in the urban areas, 47 percent of the female labor force is involved in agriculture. Women and girls perform 50-70 percent of all household consumption and production tasks. Women obtain as much as 30 percent of the familys diet and household needs from foraging, and in some areas up to 70 percent of their protein diets from fishing. The village irrigation investment and water-user fees are primarily paid out of the productive labor of women and grown-up girls. Government Services The number of women filling leadership and senior management positions is quite low, despite commitments to gender equity. The Multi-Round Survey found that within six mainline ministries women held only 7.8 percent of the 140 ranking positions, even though they constituted 37 percent of the total employees. In 1995, the government began urging all ministries, provinces, districts, and villages to consider appointing or nominating qualified women and ethnic minorities to positions of responsibility and decision-making.


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Formal and Informal Business Enterprises Women dominated rural-to-urban petty trading, market operations, home storefronts handicraft enterprises, and small business shops; since the economic reforms, womens power and status in business has returned. A large proportion of the 25,000 registered small businesses are operated by women. In the ranks of business leaders and managers, however, womens presence remains weak.The National Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimates 11 percent of senior decision-markers in private business are women, which is much less than their percentage share of the workplace. Salaries of female business managers and leaders are half those of males in similar positions. Almost 64 percent of those working in the urban non-formal sector are women.

Conclusion The development of women and girls will be vital for the Lao PDRs target for economic growth with equity. The Government of the Lao PDR has signed several major international conventions and declarations that commit to focusing on girls and womens in development. Recent experiences have demonstrated womens strong socioeconomic roles in agriculture, trade, education, and medical care. These can now be leveraged up to maximize the countrys human resource capabilities and fill shortages in professional and skilled labor. To capture womens talents and develop their potential, national policy makers, external donors, and women themselves will need to insist on equal gender opportunities and broader choices than in the past. Only then will women and girls be able to join men in mainstream development activities, publicly voice their opinion, take leadership at all levels, and have equal access to education and employment. In programming for linked gender and development concerns in Lao PDR, it is helpful to keep in mind several questions: Who has responsibility for the activities? What is known about womens and mens work patterns, responsibilities and status? How are these results of recent economic reforms? Will women and men gain or lose the use of their skills and knowledge in agriculture, in industry, handicrafts, politics, and basic rural survival from the interventions being proposed? Who has access to the resources now and who will have it in the future? Who manages and benefits from the economic reforms and the potential resources they would generate? As a result of these reforms, have both women and men gained equally in resources (land, animals, income, and education), in opportunities (training, financial credit, employment), and in empowerment (political and social influence)?

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Who has control over decisions on these new development resources? Finally, are women and men sharing planning and decision-making responsibilities?

Gender Mainstreaming in Southeast Asia: A Progress Report

Rozana Isa

Malaysian women live a life of constant contradictions. These contradictions come in the following forms they are given choices and opportunities which lead them to believe that they can choose a life that they want and yet, if they choose to go all the way, the question is perhaps not whether they can achieve it or otherwise but whether they should. This is perhaps the struggle that needs to be overcome first, the change in mindsets. Within the Malaysian government, spearheading the issues of gender is the Ministry of Women and Family Development. The Ministry was formed in January 2001, prior to that, womens issues were undertaken by the Womens Affairs Department, which sat in the Prime Ministers Department, and is entrusted to chart new directions for the advancement of women and to strengthen the family institution. The formation of the Ministry raised the expectations from the public as well as the womens NGOs in Malaysia. The Ministry realized the importance of working closely with womens NGOs and reaching out to the grassroots levels to find out what are the areas that needed to be addressed. One of the most important initial achievements of the Ministry is the amendment of Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution in August 2001 to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of gender. In changing the mindset of the people, perhaps this is one of the most important step that must be made to recognize and acknowledge that one should not discriminate on the basis of gender. What we see in the media, images of Malaysian women participating fully in public life, is not entirely untrue. Malaysian women contribute extensively to the economy. Based on the Population Census, 2000 women make up about 49.1% or 11.4 million of the population of the country,1 female labor force participation in 1995 is 43.5% since then, it has increased to 44.5% in 2000. Government policy supports the role of women and has undertaken a number of initiatives to promote

Appendix 1


Towards an ASEAN Community of Caring Societies

the role of women in economics and development. The Government of Malaysia has laid out specific policies to benefit women in rural areas by giving them access to funds for establishing micro enterprises (mainly in the food processing sector) and micro-credit facilities to facilitate women in their involvement in small businesses. The Malaysian Government highly encourages the public to participate in the Small-and-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Micro Enterprises and does so by providing financial packages and fiscal incentives through financial institutions, with several incentives that are outlined for women.2 Enrollment of girls in primary school is approximately 50% of the total enrollment, whilst at the secondary level; women make up 66% of the total enrollment. Intake of women in the national universities has increased markedly from 50% in 1995 to 55% in 2000. In the 8th Malaysia Plan, a national plan that is implemented, reviewed and reformulated every 5 years, the main objective is to continue to increase the role, position and status of women to ensure their participation as partners in the development of the country. It is acknowledged that women will have to be well equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to face the challenge of globalization. Despite the efforts to push the gender agenda forward, there are still barriers that constrain the success of these policies. Women have equal access to education however most of them are concentrated in non-vocational and non-technical courses. Pictures in textbooks, in primary schools especially have an impact in the social construction of schoolchildren and leads them to see and follow the roles that is deemed as the norm men are the doctors and women are the nurses. Mother stands at the door in her apron and broom, waving to her children and Father who is carrying a briefcase. Asian values have a stronghold in which women play a crucial role in the running of the household and upbringing of the children that women are not pushed further to achieve a higher level of education or courses that is more technical. Efforts have been made to the Ministry of Education to advocate for the portrayal of women and men in less traditional roles. Access to education alone is insufficient if the society persists that womens role remain to be conventional. In national universities, despite a large female undergraduate population and considerable percentage of women in academia as lecturers, associate professors and professors, we still do not have a woman vice-chancellor. At management level the absence of women is severely felt. This absence creates a situation whereby policies and actions laid down by universities may not be sensitive to the needs of the female students. This is exemplified in a case at one national university when there were incidents of sexual assaults on the female students at night. In dealing with this problem, the initial reaction was to protect the women (an instinct that is both patriarchal and Asian) by restricting their movements and imposing a curfew on them. This had a serious impact on the welfare of the female students, they needed to move about, attend evening lectures and tutorials and go to

Appendix 2

Background Papers


the library. Perhaps a more gendered solution would be to increase the safety of the campus areas by mounting up on security and erecting more lamp posts and this would not only have benefited the women but the men as well. Despite the numbers of women in employment increasing, the role of women in managerial positions is still at an all time low. One of the constraints for women to take on more responsibility in the workplace is the issue of double burden. Women are still being expected to fulfill their role at home as homemaker and caregiver to the family and to pursue a balance between both family and career without the support of the partner is virtually an impossible task. When the Ministry of Women and Family Development first suggested for an extended paternity leave for fathers of newborns the initial reaction in Parliament was anything but eagerness to share the burden and the responsibility of the baby. Gender mainstreaming in the corporate sector should also be looked into to address the needs of the female employees. Facilities such as child crches at the workplace would indeed provide the opportunity for the fathers to share the burden of raising the child and better options for the mothers to consider taking on more responsibility at the workplace. Another issue that must be addressed however, is who determines what should be gender mainstreamed? Are the constituency and community involved in making decisions on what issues and policies should be gender mainstreamed and how? The Ministry of Women and Family Development is making steps in the right direction by developing a Gender Disaggregated Database Information (GDIS) to capture sex disaggregated data that will be used to identify trends for policy planning and analysis. The Ministry is also launching a pilot project on gender budget analysis that will be implemented in phases with the ultimate objective of establishing a gender-sensitive national budget. Bearing in mind the efforts of the government it has to be emphasized that very often indicators set by the government differ from what the public itself sees as indicators of issues. This can be overcome by using monitoring and evaluating tools such as the report card on gender and development by The Urban Governance Initiative as a simple way to determine at the local level what are the gender issues that needs attention and what are the indicators seen by the people that the gender issue in their area is being addressed. It is then the role of the government to match the issues and indicators and work on those issues that are important to the community. All the areas that we have looked at are pertaining to the public life of women but what about their private lives? Violence against women is prevalent in Malaysia. Cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, murder and domestic violence are highlighted in the media almost daily. Whilst there are laws that address these crimes (Domestic Violence Act 1994 and the Penal Code) more often than not, the implementation of the laws is somewhat flawed to a degree. Women face hardship in going to the police station to file reports of the crimes for fear of being judged, for fear that they will then have to face the humiliation over and over again, for fear that their husbands will be sent to jail and their livelihoods affected. The Ministry of Women and Family Development had formed a National Steering Committee on Violence Against Women consisting of relevant government agencies, the enforcement agencies, lawyers and womens groups to look at the


Towards an ASEAN Community of Caring Societies

entire aspect of the laws pertaining violence against women and its enforcement. Initiatives such as this, whilst worthwhile will not mean anything if the society continues not to recognize women as equal partners, as human beings with rights. Education plays a key role in ensuring that boys and girls are brought up to mutually respect one another and to stress that violence against women is a heinous crime. Gender mainstreaming in this area is crucial. (The proposal for the syllabus on sex education by the Ministry of Education with the intention of addressing the objectives of mutual respect between boys and girls and their bodies was met with some reluctance by the schools and teachers to teach the syllabus in the classrooms because they consider the subject as taboo). These steps taken are part of gender mainstreaming but with all the hurdles that are faced and the little steps taken to address them, the issue of good governance of gender mainstreaming is often ignored or overlooked. Good governance of gender mainstreaming is important to ensure that policies do not just remain as policies but that they reach the people. One important component of good governance is participation of women in decision-making at the local level and national levels. In Malaysia, elections are no longer held for local authority posts, instead they are appointed by the state government. Out of 123 local authorities in Malaysia, only one woman is President and 2 are vice-presidents. In the elected lower house of Parliament, women hold 20 of 193 seats and in the appointed upper house women hold 19 out of 69 seats. 2 of 28 cabinet ministers are women. Malaysia aims to achieve 30% female representation in the Government by the year 2005. We are 2 years away from achieving the goal and the numbers may still be low but the point is this, given the opportunity, women will be elected, as women need women as champion for their issues. We have seen how policies intend for women to partake in public life with opportunities in employment, education and entrepreneurship but how do we determine whether the appropriate resources are directed towards removing the hurdles that prevent women in taking these opportunities when we lack women at the decision making levels to help us remove those constraints? How much is being spent to increase the safety on the streets? Is there a targeted budget for the entire police force to be trained on the issues of gender and violence against women and for this training to be institutionalized and not a one off? Is there an allocation for the Ministry of Education to provide training on gender to all the teachers first to address their fears and misconceptions in giving sex education in the classrooms? How much is spent in building shelters and halfway homes for women and children in every community or every state and that these shelters are well equipped to operate in providing the services much needed by the women? The policy on child crches in the working place is very clear but how much does a department put aside in building and operatig these crches. Gender mainstreaming is not just about providing policies that are sensitive to gender, gender mainstreaming is also about removing these barriers so that women can truly have access to the opportunities, that they have access to really make the choice. To have womens increased participation at the local level will pave the way for more women to be elected at the Parliamentary level and this will create

Background Papers


more impact to the efforts and policies laid down by the Ministry of Women and Family Development. Otherwise, what is the use in declaring to the world that Malaysia has ratified to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and constitutionally, Malaysia has prohibited discrimination on the grounds of gender when we have yet to remove the blindfold that allows women to be discriminated every step of the way. The longer we continue to deny that we need to change our mindsets about how far a woman should take up its role in public, and how much role a man should play in private life the further we are away from progressing towards a more equitable and caring society.


Towards an ASEAN Community of Caring Societies

Appendix 1 Table 1. Population by Age Group and Gender

Male (000) Female 6,887.2 7,849.5 (000) Total 13,879.2 15,882.7 (000) % Female 49.6 49.4 (over total) Age Group 0-14 years 5,542.4 6,081.2 (000) Male 2,834.1 3,111.8 Female 2,708.3 2,969.4 39.3 37.8 % Female (over female population) 15-64 7,845.7 9,227.3 years (000) Male 3,914.8 4,646.1 Female 3,930.9 4,581.2 % Female 57.1 58.4 (over female population) 65 years 491.1 574.2 and above (000) Male 243.1 275.2 Female 248.0 299.0 % Female 3.6 3.8 (over female population) Note: P Preliminary Source: Department of Statistics 1980 6,992.0 1985 8,033.1 1991 9,416.5 9,130.7 18,547.2 49.2 1995 10,563.9 10,125.4 20,689.3 48.9 2000 11,853.4 11,421.3 23,274.7 49.1 2001P 12,062.1 11,733.2 23,795.3 49.3

6,899.9 3,542.8 3,357.1 36.8

7,331.3 3,777.1 3,554.3 35.1

7,751.0 3,762.1 3,762.1 32.9

7,880.5 3,830.2 3,830.2 32.6





5,558.6 5,412.8 59.3

6,440.3 6,162.0 60.9

7,445.6 7,177.5 62.8

7,565.6 7,390.9 63.0





315.1 360.8 4.0

346.5 409.1 4.0

418.9 481.7 4.2

446.2 512.1 4.4

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Table 2. Employment Distribution by Occupation and Gender, 1995 and 2000 (%) 1995 Female Male 12.7 8.4 1.8 17.5 11.6 14.4 16.6 25.4 100.0 3.9 7.5 10.6 9.4 21.9 38.3 100.0 2000 Female Male 13.6 8.9 2.3 17.7 12.2 17.6 13.9 22.7 100.0 4.7 7.1 11.0 9.5 20.4 38.4 100.0

Occupation Category Professional, Technical and Related Workers Administrative and Managerial Workers Clerical and Related Workers Sales Workers and Related Workers Service Workers Agriculture Workers Production & Related Workers Total
Source: Department of Statistics, Malaysia


Towards an ASEAN Community of Caring Societies

Appendix 2 i. Funding for Business Operations Several Government agencies such as Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) and Yayasan Tekun Nasional (TEKUN) have disbursed RM19 million to 8,710 women entrepreneurs. ii. Special Funding Scheme for Women Entrepreneurs Under this fund, financing in the form of soft loans and grants for small-andmedium enterprises to upgrade their operations in terms of technology, relocation to technology parks or incubation centers and sourcing of foreign technical experts and skills training for the staff are provided. These schemes are managed by the Small-and-Medium Industries Development Corporation (SMIDEC) and the Malaysia Technology Development Corporation (MTDC). As of June 30, 2001, SMIDEC has approved a total of RM13.9 million to 208 applicants whilst MTDC has disbursed a sum of RM9.6 million to 13 women entrepreneurs. iii. Special Fund for the Development of Women Entrepreneurs The Ministry of Entrepreneur Development (MED) has an allocation of RM5.0 million to fund programmes for nurturing, training, developing and business expansion of women entrepreneurs. These activities include support given to women entrepreneurs to establish networking amongst them locally and abroad. Until 6 September 2002, RM1.06 million has been disbursed to 3,630 women entrepreneurs.
(Source: Malaysias Report on the Advancement of Gender Mainstreaming, APEC 2002 Ministerial Meeting on Women, 28-29 September 2002, Guadalajara, Mexico)