PPSEAWA's Statement at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF)

July 12-16, 2021
Release Date: 
Monday, 12 July, 2021

The High-level Segment for NGOs in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council took place at the United Nations from July 12-16, 2021, as part of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

ECOSOC made it clear that in light of the current concerns regarding COVID-19, there will be no in-person general debate and consequently no opportunity for NGOs to be present to make oral statements. However, PPSEAWA was allowed to submit a written statement because it has Consultative Status in Category II to the United Nations.

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Statement submitted by Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women's Association in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council. The Secretary-General has received the following statements, which are being circulated in accordance with paragraphs 30 and 31 of Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31.

The Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women's Association is a non-governmental organization that has documented the reality of women’s lives in the Asia Pacific region for over 90 years. Our mission is to 6romote cooperation toward common goals: ensuring equal access to education, health, and financial literacy for girls and women; building skills for decision-making; and eliminating gender-based violence. Our programs address cultural and economic structural barriers to gender equality through community-based programs aligned with targets raised at the United Nations.

Our organization aims to build capacity for a woman’s self-determination and self-sufficiency throughout her life course. Women often do not, or cannot, access government services due to their location, lack of literacy, legal status, or societal stigma. Our programs address the intersectionality of needs found in Sustainable Development Goals of poverty and hunger alleviation, health, decent work, and sustainable production. For example, we enable access to markets so village women can sell handicrafts and local foodstuffs for supplemental income in Fiji and Samoa. These projects contribute to realization of targets 2.3 increasing access to land and markets for small-scale food producers, 8.8 safe passage and secure access to markets, 12.2 use of natural resources for economic production, and 12.3 reduce food loss along the supply chain. Another example is a waste savings bank for elderly women without family support and impoverished children in Thailand. They sell recyclable plastic litter and they use the dividends from savings for basic needs, which mitigated economic downturns after severe flooding in the past and the global coronavirus pandemic of 2020. Our financial empowerment program in Singapore targets Supermoms who have a less than S$500 per capita income and with 1 to 8 children. Supermoms were suddenly unemployed but did not have savings to tide them over so we helped them apply for government grants for COVID-19 Relief. Then they participated in a financial empowerment program with group and individual training for goal setting, money management, mental health awareness and one-to-one mentoring. Our economic empowerment program adapted to offer non-traditional vocational training in operating food stalls and plumbing/electrical home services. We established a platform for home-based businesses, especially crucial for single mothers balancing childcare with income generation under lockdown. We have health programs targeting the disabled and undocumented such as breast cancer screenings for female prison inmates and reproductive health education for adolescents at schools for the disabled in Thailand, health and digital literacy programs for migrant children and young mothers in border areas of Thailand, and project for remote learning in off-grid parts of Sarawak.

Non-governmental organizations like ours provide data and comparative best practices from diverse national settings, to guide socio-economic development policies that respect gender and ethnic differences. The way forward for government policies is to commit to financing education and resilience measures at every level and life stage, and that make shared responsibility for household income, care work, and social wellbeing a societal norm.