Office of the Senior Coordinator for International Women's Issues
February 22, 2005
U.S. Commitment to Women in East Asia and the Pacific
The United States is committed to the full integration of women into economic, political, and social spheres. U.S. funding supports a variety of programs that help women expand their political and economic opportunities and that promote equal access to education and health care. Many of the projects are supported by USAID, the Department of State’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs(EAP), and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). The Bureau of maintains a Regional Women’s Issues Fund focused on empowering women by: 1) increasing women's participation in the political process; 2) encouraging economic independence; and 3) preventing violence against women in the EAP region. For Fiscal Year 2004, the EAP Women’s Issues Fund devoted $1.988 million to programs assisting women. The projects below are representative of U.S. Government efforts in East Asia and the Pacific.
Political Participation and Civil Society
Women in Local Communities. Women gain valuable leadership experience through involvement in community-based organizations. In Malaysia, the Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM, the Movement for Progress), a Sarawak-based non-governmental organization (NGO), received a grant from the U.S. Embassy to encourage greater volunteerism among women in rural villages, to train women in community development, and to build communication links. The Girl Guides Association of Cambodia (GGAC) is working with girls and young women to be more active in their communities. Their programs emphasize building peace and encouraging good citizenship.
Women in the Media. Since 1996, the United States has supported the Women’s Media Centre of Cambodia (WMC), a center run entirely by women, which strives to improve women’s status by promoting socially conscious television, video, and radio programs. In Indonesia, the United States supports the Women’s Journal Foundation, which has undertaken a media campaign in support of women’s rights in their Women's Journal, on the Women’s Journal Radio, and in a documentary on trafficking in persons. The Women’s Journal is a bi-monthly publication that prints 5,000 copies per issue. The Women’s Journal Radio broadcasts a twenty-minute program weekly to 158 stations across Indonesia. In 2004, the Foundation received a grant to continue its campaign for women's rights in Indonesia.
Human Rights and Legal Awareness. To safeguard women’s legal rights, the United States supports rule of law programs in China, including judicial reform and respect for the rights of workers and women. In East Timor, the United States funds the Women's Justice Unit’s advocacy campaign for women's rights in the justice system. The Cambodian NGO Outreach provides legal and human rights training to rural women in four provinces, with a special emphasis on domestic violence. In the Philippines, the United States is working with the Ateneo Center for Social Policy to identify policy recommendations on elections, human rights, women’s rights, and civil society that are sensitive to Filipino Islamic culture.
Violence Against Women.. Efforts are being made in Mongolia, where the U.S. Embassy has supported the National Center Against Violence, an NGO that runs shelters for victims of domestic violence and advocates for legislation against domestic violence. In Indonesia, the Foundation for the Elimination of Violence against Women (FEVW) and the Foundation to Assist in the Protection of Women work to raise awareness of domestic violence and develop media campaigns. FEVW has programs for elementary school teachers and their students. United States support for the Indonesian National Commission on Violence against Women led to the establishment of regional women’s crisis centers. Instituted initially in 2002 in the capital, the program expanded to rural areas in 2004. The United States has supported similar projects in Malaysia and funded the construction of a shelter for abused women in Papua New Guinea.
Trafficking in Persons (TIP). The United States implements programs to combat trafficking in the region. Some of the programs include raising awareness, improving law enforcement, and establishing legal assistance centers for victims. The EAP Women’s Issues Fund in Fiscal Year 2004 continued to support a number of projects focusing on TIP prevention and victim protection. For example, in Thailand the Fund continued its financial support for a novel project providing multi-disciplinary protection/prosecution teams in major trafficking centers. Popularly referred to as the "Chiang Mai Model," these teams enable social workers, prosecutors, lawyers, legal aid volunteers, investigative police, medical practitioners, and NGOs to assist trafficking victims and to help in the prosecution of traffickers. In Vietnam, the Fund supports projects empowering at-risk communities through education on safe migration and on legal rights. In Indonesia, a project being supported by the Fund offers technical assistance and policy advocacy training to help local governments, both at the district and municipal levels, to establish and implement policies that will better serve their female, poor, and marginalized constituents, thus reducing their vulnerability to trafficking. In Mongolia, the Fund is financing a project designed to deter trafficking of people by increasing the quantity and utilization of trafficking data and by working with governmental partners to draft anti-trafficking legislation. The Fund also supported an important project designed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to assist the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to craft a data collection regime so as to better analyze human trafficking data in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. The Fund is also supporting an effort to upgrade the technical capabilities of the Humantrafficking.org website, which assists governments and non-governmental organizations in combating human trafficking. For more information on TIP, see the website for the Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons: http://www.state.gov/g/tip/.
Workforce Training. In Cambodia’s garment industry, where 95% of the labor force is female, USAID helped to train more than 9,500 women garment workers and 1,500 women union leaders in organizational and management techniques. U.S. funding to the Economic Acceleration Program for the Silk Sector in Laos helped them to expand the participation of women in village decision-making and in the management of production groups. A similar program exists in East Timor, where the Small Business Training and Income Generation project provided training in small business management to 180 women in the agricultural sector in 2004.
Women as Entrepreneurs. In Mongolia, USAID pioneered the Gobi initiative, which is a rural development program that has helped to establish 115 new businesses and 94 business training programs, in which women made up 56% of the participants. The United States, in partnership with Indonesia, organized a program for 50 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders to promote the extension of business loans and other financial services to impoverished women through commercially viable microfinance institutions.
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). The United States works to ensure that women’s interests are taken into account in APEC's policies and projects. The United States helped to create the Gender Focal Points Network (GFPN) to implement the Framework for the Integration of Women in APEC and plays a leadership role in the Women Leaders Network (WLN), an advisory body comprised of women from business, academia, NGOs, and government from each of the 21 APEC economies. Women use the WLN to share best practices and promote business and trade for women entrepreneurs through workshops and international events. APEC commissioned the U.S. Census Bureau to study the economic contributions of women in the region. The study addressed the need for gender-disaggregated data and notes the disproportionate concentration of women in the informal sector, where low wage jobs and poor working conditions predominate. The WLN worked in partnership with APEC officials to create a Microenterprise Subgroup within APEC’s SME group. The Microenterprise Subgroup is important for women in business since women in APEC developing economies are predominantly concentrated in microenterprises, in the informal sector, as the Census study indicated. For information on APEC, see http://www.apecsec.org.sg/apec.html.
Newsletter on 2004 APEC Summit: http://www.state.gov/p/wha/rls/news/37147.htm
Teacher Training. Ensuring that girls remain in school is a high priority for the United States. Through USAID, the United States supports a program in Cambodia to improve gender balance in enrollment and ensure continued attendance of poor females, who drop out of school at a higher rate than their male counterparts. Projects emphasize reform within the Ministry of Education and the recruitment and training of teachers from minority groups, including Cambodia’s Islamic Cham population. Activities will be held in all 22 provinces, 18 provincial Teacher Training Colleges, and six Regional Training Colleges.
Contact: Office of International Women’s Issues