KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 (Bernama) — Asean remains committed both at national and regional level to continue making significant strides towards improving the situation of women across the region, said Malaysia’s Charge d’Affairs Raja Reza Raja Zaib Shah at the 68th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York.

Raja Reza, who made the statement on behalf of the Asean member states on Agenda Item 28: Advancement of Women of the Third Committee, said Friday that Asean supported calls by UN on advancement of women and reaffirmed its readiness to work and cooperate closely with all interested partners and stakeholders in that issue.

In a statement made available to Bernama today, he said women’s contribution and participation had long been recognised by Asean, and the Asean Committee on Women (ACW) was established in 2002 to coordinate and monitor implementation of key Asean priorities and cooperation on women’s issues and concern in the region.

Meanwhile, the Asean Commission for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) was set up on April 2010 to improve coordination and assisting Asean member states in the implementation of their commitments under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw).

He said a recent example of the work concluded by the ACWC was the finalisation of the draft Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Elimination of Violence Against Children in Asean.

The Declaration was adopted by the Asean leaders at the just-concluded 23rd Asean Summit on Oct 9 in Brunei.

“With the adoption, Asean’s commitment to overcome obstacles is reaffirmed by strengthening regional cooperation, collaboration and coordination endeavoured and outlined by key measures indicated in the Declaration, such as building adequately resourced national welfare systems, protection, recovery and rahabilitation of victims, promotion of legislation against violence against women and children and protection of the rights of women and children,” said raja Reza.

He said the Declaration also further enhanced the coverage of vulnerabilities and emerging forms of abuse confronted by women abd children by addressing conflict, migration, disaster, emergency situation, climate change, human trafficking, labour, cyber-based abuses, persons with disabilities, statelessness and belonging to ethnic and indigenous groups.

In a separate statement at the same event, Raja Reza also reaffirmed Malaysia’s stand on empowering women achieving gender equality in the country.

“The role and status of women have undergone a profound change in the past five decades.

“The government continues to take all measures to prevent and eliminate any forms of discrimination against women in order to develop their potential in all sectors to the optimum, and to ensure that the rights of women are continuously promoted and protected in enabling them to fully enjoy their human rights,” he said.

He said empowering women had been made a key component in the Tenth Malaysia Plan (2011-2015), while under the Economic Transformation Programme, Malaysia reinforced the need to attract, increase and retain female employee in workforce.

Citing the 1Azam programme, Raja Reza said the programme – aimed at ensuring sustainability and economic independence for the targeted group – was a success in helping women from low-income households to generate more income to support their families.

He said the government had also made violence against women as one of 13 key sectors under the Plan of Action of the Advancement of Women.

He said Malaysia’s seriousness in this matter was also evident with the number of amendments in the law to broaden protection and rights of victims of violence, including amendments to the Penal Code, Employment Act and the Domestic Violence Act.– BERNAMA