Young women’s voices resonate in ASEAN


Author: Amber L. van Muijden, UN Women Fund for Gender Equality

With more than 700 million young people in the Asia-Pacific region, youth-friendly spaces for discussion and participation are essential. However, these kinds of scenarios remain scarce and more often than not young people’s voices, in particular girls’ voices, are side-lined in national, regional and international fora, even on issues that directly affect and concern them.


Members of Young Women Making Change at the ASEAN People’s Forum 2015. Photo: IWRAW

In April 2015, a group of eager young women activists from Vietnam, Malaysia, and Timor-Leste were given the opportunity to attend the ASEAN People’s Forum 2015 (APF) taking place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. During this four-day event, the girls took over part of the busy agenda to host a workshop discussing the issues young women face in their home countries and their work to address them.

The activists are part of “Young Women Making Change” a programme implemented by the International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW) which trains young female activists to become effective women’s rights advocates using the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The programme, funded by UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality, has trained 100 young women in the ASEAN region providing them with knowledge and tools to strengthen their advocacy skills to ensure that international, regional, and national level discussions reflect their actual needs and concerns; building their capacity and voice to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Young women’s Voices

Photo: IWRAW

“Having the chance to take part in APF has been one of the greatest and most eye-opening experiences for me so far. After 7 days, I gained countless precious learning points and unforgettable memories that will help me a lot in the future.”

--- Ngoc Anh (Viet Nam)


Photo: IWRAW

“For grassroots efforts to be effective, we need to dissect the hierarchies and power imbalances that we’ve allowed to take place amongst ourselves. If we emulate our oppressors, will they ever take our pleas to enact policies and laws to protect human rights seriously?”

--- Dhiyanah Hassan (Malaysia)


Photo: IWRAW

“At APF I met many senior and junior activists from ASEAN that inspired me very much, especially women activists who came with their own vision and issues. Through them I was able to realize that if we work together as a team, people will hear our voice clearly.”

--- Abrantes (Timor-Leste)


Photo: IWRAW

“Whether through public campaigns with the masses or personal campaigns at home or in the office, we are able to create change, one mindset at a time.”

--- Dina Abdul (Malaysia)



For more information, please contact:

Caroline Horekens
Asia Pacific Monitoring & Reporting Specialist
UN Women Fund for Gender Equality