The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region. ESCAP, with 53 member States and nine associate members, covers a region that is home to 4.1 billion people, constituting two-thirds of the world’s population. ESCAP provides a forum for its member States to engage in policy dialogues, regional cooperation and collective action and assists countries in building and sustaining shared economic growth and social equity across the following core areas of work: disaster risk reduction; environment and sustainable development; information and communications technology; macroeconomic policy and development; social development; statistics; trade and investment; and transport
The outcome of the 15-year regional review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action - the Bangkok Declaration on Beijing+15 - underpins ESCAP’s work on preventing and ending violence against women and girls. ESCAP actively supports the Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence Against Women Campaign, in its capacity as Co-Chair of the Regional Coordination Mechanism Thematic Working Group on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.
A priority area of ESCAP’s work in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Asian and Pacific region is the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls, with a particular focus on vulnerable populations, such as conflict-affected women and girls, international female migrants, women with disabilities and women affected by HIV/AIDS. ESCAP promotes regional dialogue and the sharing of good practices to facilitate policy formulation and implementation of global and regional commitments; conducts advocacy and outreach; builds and strengthens partnerships between governments, civil society and other stakeholders; and undertakes capacity-building activities to strengthen political will and multi-sectoral actions towards ending violence against women and girls.
In March 2012, the Asia-Pacific Regional Coordination Mechanism Thematic Working Group on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (TWG-GEEW), co-chaired by ESCAP and UN WOMEN, established a Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). The Working Group strengthens interagency cooperation and collaboration in support of the Women, Peace and Security agenda in the region and provides a forum to address issues related to this agenda, including sexual violence in conflict situations. ESCAP and UN Women provide a joint secretariat for the Working Group, which also supports the Regional Advisory Group in implementing its workplan to advance the Women, Peace and Security agenda in the Asia-Pacific region.Hide
From 13 to 14 September 2011, the Regional Coordination Mechanism Thematic Working Group on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (RCM TWG-GEEW) (co-chaired by ESCAP and UN Women) organised and hosted the Inaugural Meeting of the Regional Advisory Group on Women and Peace and Security, during which the terms of reference were adopted and priority areas for action and support were discussed. The outcome was shared in an open session (“Priorities for Implementing United Nations Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in the Asia-Pacific region”). In addition, at its 2 September 2011 meeting, the RCM TWG-GEEW agreed to establish a UNiTE Working Group under its auspices, which is now working to implement the UNiTE Campaign in the Asia-Pacific region.Hide
The Asia-Pacific Regional Coordination Mechanism Thematic Working Group on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (TWG-GEEW), co-chaired by ESCAP and UN WOMEN, continued its engagement in support of the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda. The Thematic Working Group convened the “Second Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Regional Advisory Group on Women, Peace and Security” on 1-2 August 2013. The meeting provided a forum for the Regional Advisors to share experiences and good practices, as well as identify common concerns and strategies for accelerating progress in effective implementation of UNSCR 1325 and related resolutions. The meeting addressed the particular vulnerabilities of conflict-affected populations and concluded with recommendations on policies and strategies to strengthen implementation of the WPS agenda in Asia and the Pacific, including through national action plans to effectively protect women and girls in conflict situations.Hide
In commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, ESACP reported that an awareness raising exhibit was displayed in the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, including winning T-shirts from the UNiTE campaign T-Shirt Design Competition.Hide
ESCAP published a toolkit for implementing and monitoring the East Asia and Pacific Regional Commitment and Action Plan against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) (2006) and a resource guide on international and regional instruments, political commitments and recommended practices for combating human trafficking (2003).Hide
In July 2007, ESCAP held an expert group meeting for senior law-making officials and national machineries for women to review the concluding comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and integration of the Convention in domestic law. The meeting focused, as one major issue, on strategies for policy reform in the area of violence against women, including on such issues as recognition of marital rape, mechanisms to enforce existing laws - particularly on domestic violence, and personal or religious law that condones violence against women. As part of ESCAP project to build the capacity of the Pacific Islands to adopt and implement the Stockholm Agenda for Action and the Yokohama Commitments to Combat Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth, a Regional Stakeholders’ Consultation and Planning Workshop for government officials and NGOs was held. The workshop was based on situational analysis studies on the commercial sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children in the Pacific and it also addressed violence and abuse of girls and adolescents. The meeting, on 19-21 November 2007 in Suva, Fiji, was co-organized with ECPAT International and Save the Children Fiji.Hide
ESCAP undertakes capacity-building activities for more effective programme planning by governments and civil society organizations for achieving gender equality and health promotion, including addressing HIV/AIDS issues, human trafficking, and combating commercial sexual exploitation of children in Asia and the Pacific. It promotes strengthening of women’s national machineries at the governmental level and serves as a facilitator in building linkages among government, civil society and development partners. ESCAP also undertakes training activities, such as the sub-regional training workshop on elimination of violence against women in partnership with men, New Delhi (2003).Hide
At the third session of UNESCAP’s Committee on Emerging Social Issues, 12 to 14 December 2006, the Executive Secretary called attention to the Secretary-General’s in-depth study on all forms of violence against women. Copies of the study were circulated to all Member States and Observers. The Committee considered the document entitled “Emerging issues and challenges related to gender and development” (E/ESCAP/CESI (3)/3) which covered the key findings of and recommendations of the Secretary-General’s study.Hide
ESCAP disseminates information about prevention of violence against women and trafficking, and encourages stakeholder participation in such efforts. It organizes panel discussions, film festivals and screenings to increase awareness among different stakeholders. For example, ESCAP has facilitated the production and screening of a short film, called Young Men Speak Out.Hide