including reproductive and sexual health, family planning, and gender-based violence.
They gathered on the occasion of the 7th Asia-Pacific Women Parliamentarians' and Ministers' Conference from 14-15 November. Hosted by the Parliament of Malaysia, the conference was organized by the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD) in cooperation with UNFPA and AFPPD-Malaysia and with support from the Government of Japan.
Participants assessed parliamentarians' contribution to gender and ICPD issues and highlighted emerging priority concerns of women. They also discussed topics such as prevention of violence against women, the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, and women's health issues.
Parliamentarians also asked AFPPD to review the implementation of the commitment made by parliamentarians at various levels. It was pointed out that laws and legislation are in place in nearly all countries of Asia-Pacific and Central Asia on a range of gender equality issues but implementation is lacking.
The conference concluded with a unanimous adoption of the Kuala Lumpur Statement of Commitment in which parliamentarians and ministers pledged to take a range of actions to effectively promote gender equality and improve women's health and rights at the country-level (see below).
Kuala Lumpur Statement of Commitment
Arising from the 7th Asia-Pacific Women Parliamentarians' and Ministers' Conference on Parliamentarians' Action for Gender Issues
1. We, the parliamentarians and ministers from nineteen countries of Asia and the Pacific, gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 14-15 November 2009 to participate in the 7th Asia-Pacific Women Parliamentarians' and Ministers' Conference, in pursuant of our commitment to parliamentarian action on gender issues in Asia. The outcomes of this regional conference will be an important contribution to global efforts towards promoting women's empowerment, gender equality and universal access to basic health services, including reproductive health services, in accordance with the Beijing Platform for Action and Cairo Programme of Action.
2. We recognize that:
• Ministers and parliamentarians are key to achieving the ICPD and Beijing programmes of action, and their commitment to support gender-responsive policies and budgets is a main factor for countries to realistically achieve their national development goals and targets.
• Women ministers and parliamentarians can often be champions for supporting social sector policies and programmes, and national development efforts, especially policies for gender equality, equity and women's empowerment.
• Gender positive policies remain most challenging in many countries, particularly in Asia, where they also require normative transformation, institutional reform, and sustainable capacity development, and support to policy development and/or implementation, to ensure that they achieve tangible results.
3. We further acknowledge that:
• We have the power and responsibility to work together towards: the advancement of women' s empowerment, gender equality and equity; the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls; the promotion and protection of sexual and reproductive health and rights of all individuals; and the achievement of universal access to HIV and AIDS prevention, care, treatment and support.
• The Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the Beijing Platform for Action are foundational to our work on gender issues and we need to mobilize resources to continue to implement the actions identified in these international frameworks.
4. Thus, as part of the global and regional community of Ministers and Parliamentarians, we commit ourselves to ensuring adequate attention and the following strategic parliamentarians' actions on gender issues:
• Give support to national development strategies, plans and budgets that promote gender equality, equity and the empowerment of women.
• Develop policies that recognize and respond in a timely manner to emerging priority concerns which primarily affect women.
• Affirm and strengthen national parliaments' commitments to the ICPD and Beijing frameworks.
• Improved financial planning and management to ensure effective distribution and utilization of often scarce resources for women's health, reproductive health and prevention of violence against women.
• Enhancing the capacity of national logistical systems to deliver timely and quality health commodities, essential drugs and other supplies.
• Considering avenues for strengthening inter-country and regional cooperation and experience sharing.
5. Specifically, from our deliberations during this Conference, we commit ourselves to undertake the following immediate actions in our respective countries:
• Publicly speak out against all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls.
• Ensure adequate and appropriate legislative and programmatic responses to violence against women and exploitation, including trafficking, and ensure their effective enforcement.
• Strengthen and sustain initiatives to reduce the gender gap in education, political participation, and employment for women.
• Address fundamentals of gender inequities in health, particularly in reproductive health policies and programmes.
• Recognize the urgent need to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Ensure that all possible measures are taken to prevent the spreading of the HIV infection, especially among vulnerable and marginalized populations, and that all people living with HIV/AIDS, without discrimination, will receive proper treatment and care.
• Mobilize support for legislation, regulation and funding for comprehensive reproductive health services, including acceptable and affordable family planning, and for women to have services that enable them to go safely through pregnancy, have a safe delivery and post partum period, or a safe abortion.
• Formulate policies to promote greater male involvement and participation in improving gender equality, equity and empowerment of women. Promote men's understanding of their roles and responsibilities with regard to eliminating violence against women.
• Enhance partnership with non-governmental organizations and civil society in matters related to gender equality, equity and the empowerment of women.
6. We urge our colleagues and counterparts in Asia and the Pacific to take note of and act on this statement of commitment and its recommendations.
7. We hereby reaffirm our commitment and undertake all that is in our means and resources to produce the concrete policy actions needed to address gender equality, equity and the empowerment of women in a multi-sectoral and comprehensive approach.