ASEAN WOMEN’S NETWORK: From words to action

Indeed, the mantra “From Words to Action” is the most appropriate in describing the ASEAN WOMEN’S NETWORK on-going proactive campaigns, advocacies and groundworks in pursuit of gender equality both in education and trade unions. In the Asia-Pacific Region, it is a challenge for us to make this network a tool for action rather than a venue for expressing the barriers we face to realize our AWN vision and mission.

Through this Network, women leaders from different regions were able to exchange and share ideas, strategies, and news about their respective organizations relative to our goals. In several meetings called by Education International (EI) Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EI-APRO) and attended by women leaders, there were victories reported such as1)the institutionalization of the 30% quota for women leaders at all levels of leadership structure and the Constitutional provision for setting up Women’s Committee; 2) Union Policy of at least 50% women participants in all training/workshop activities; 3) the Network has conducted action research on teachers’ migration and now implementing the measures and recommendations that unions believe as appropriate; and 4) a book review to see to it that books and other education materials are gender friendly. Findings are submitted to appropriate government agencies and authorities. Further, it has negotiated and signed Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA’s) with gender components e.g. breastfeeding, increase maternity and paternity benefits and special privileges for women e.g. flexible working hours, special leaves.

At the national level, the Network has been at the forefront of engaging the decision and policy makers (parliament) and executive branches. In some affiliates, they have institutionalized the tripartite transformational dialogues with the teachers’ unions as one of the pillars on the policy / legislative formation. At the same time, the Network is also pursuing the parallel “parliament of the streets” as pressure strategy and simultaneously educating the community and other stakeholders to win their support.

At this point, our Network would like to extend its deepest appreciation to Education International and development partners for their untiring support both to financial and human resources with the aspiration and vision of a South-to-South Cooperation in the region. These are just a few examples of our victories that are cross-cutting the three pillars of the Education International Unite Campaign: quality teaching, quality teaching tools, and quality environments. We are confident that through this Network, the gathering of experts and experienced women leaders would guide us to develop a more focused and targeted campaign for gender equality and quality education. Under the guidance of Sis. Shashi Bala Singh and Sis. Pathma Krishnan, the Network has certainly put words to actions.