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ERIA and ASEAN IPR Kick-Off Initiative on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), and Women in the Digital Economy (WDE)

19 June 2024

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Jakarta, 19 June 2024: The ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) aims to integrate an economic perspective within the WPS agenda, ensuring the protection and support of women’s livelihoods, particularly in the context of disasters, conflicts, and crises. It also seeks to explore opportunities for the private sector to effectively promote WPS objectives. Concurrently, as ASEAN navigates fast technological changes during and post-pandemic, digital technologies play a crucial role in post-conflict planning, private sector development, and economic regeneration. Access to connectivity is widely regarded as an enabler of economic activity across different sectors of society. However, challenges remain for women to fully integrate into and maximize the benefits of the digital economy. One significant barrier to integration is gender-based technology-facilitated violence. If not promptly addressed, these challenges could adversely affect regional economic growth and harm women’s economic empowerment in post-conflict communities.

To further investigate and understand these dynamics, the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) and the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (ASEAN-IPR) are launching a joint pilot study to examine the linkages between WPS and the participation of women in the digital economy (WDE) in the ASEAN region.

A high-level kick-off meeting of this new initiative took place on June 19th at ERIA’s Digital Innovation and Sustainable Economy Center (E-DISC). The event was opened jointly by H.E. Yoko Kamikawa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan; H.E. Bintang Puspayoga, Minister of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection of the Republic of Indonesia; Tetsuya Watanabe, President of ERIA; H.E. Bovonethat Douangchak, Permanent Representative of Lao PDR to ASEAN; and H.E. Ambassador I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja, Executive Director of ASEAN-IPR. Keynote speeches were delivered by H.E. Ing Kantha Phavi, Minister of Women Affairs of Cambodia, and Indra Gunawan, Acting Deputy Minister for Gender Equality, Ministry of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection (KPPPA), Republic of Indonesia. H.E. Artauli RMP Tobing, Advisory Board member of ASEAN-IPR, introduced the keynote speakers. Akiko Yamanaka, Special Adviser to the President of ERIA and former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, delivered concluding remarks.

Two thematic sessions on WPS and WDE discussed key focus areas and future directions for the project. Issues that emerged include:

  1. The relationship between peace and security and women’s economic empowerment enabled by digital technology.
  2. The challenge of meaningful digital connectivity in some parts of ASEAN, which remains a barrier to closing the gender digital divide.
  3. Digital technologies, while enabling women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship, also pose threats due to cyber violence, online harassment, misinformation, and disinformation against women and girls.

The two thematic sessions were chaired by Kartika Wijayanti, Project Management Officer, ASEAN-IPR (WPS session), and Dr Giulia Ajmone Marsan, Head of Startups and Inclusion, ERIA Digital Innovation and Sustainable Economy Center. Shebana Alqaseer, Communications Consultant at the Asia Foundation, Anna Tarhata Basman, Gender Expert at the Asia Foundation; Bal Bahadur Bhujel, Regional Micro Economic Initiatives Advisor, ICRC; and Lauren Power, Co-Chair, Women in STEM Working Group Women20 (W20), Advisor Women7 (W7), provided technical background and insights during the sessions.

For further reading:
Women’s Participation in the Digital Economy: Improving Access to Skills, Entrepreneurship, and Leadership Across ASEAN
Gender Digital Equality Across ASEAN
Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in Eastern Indonesia
Video: Women and the Digital Economy


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