Inaugural Southeast Asia Dialogue of Women Leaders
The Foreign Ministers of Australia and the Republic of Indonesia co-chaired the inaugural Southeast Asia Dialogue of Women Leaders on 18 March 2022. The meeting brought together Ministers and leaders from government, the private sector and civil society across Southeast Asia.
The inaugural Dialogue was held at an important time, as the region recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and as it hosts a number of major meetings this year including the G20 and the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Women.
Ministers and leaders recognised the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women and girls. They discussed the importance of striving for a gender inclusive social and economic recovery that restores the key role of women in small to medium sized enterprise in Southeast Asian economies. They discussed the importance of access to digital and financial inclusion for women and multi-stakeholder collaboration in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Recent trends show the pandemic will have a long-term effect on the well-being of women and girls across the social spectrum. They agreed empowering women and providing access to support and equitable resources would need to be at the centre of recovery efforts. Women leaders focused on the importance of collaboration at all levels of society across the region, noting that governments, business, communities and individuals all have a role to play.
Ministers and leaders underscored the importance of women leaders in Southeast Asia and Australia to lead recovery efforts in various fields and expertise. Women’s voices must be heard and their contributions towards mitigating the impact of the pandemic must be an integral part of public policy discourse.
The Dialogue reaffirmed ASEAN’s centrality to our region’s security and prosperity and commended Cambodia’s role as the ASEAN Chair for 2022 and the leadership it has shown on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The Dialogue strengthened the network of women leaders in the region and provided a forum to share perspectives and highlight challenges, countries’ policy approaches, and areas of cooperation on gender equality. The Dialogue highlighted the importance of looking beyond the pandemic and exploring ways to increase women’s participation in society.
Co-chairs proposed the Dialogue become an annual event to foster collaboration on the shared challenge of achieving gender equality and continuing to elevate and tackle critical issues for women in the region.