Hanoi, 10 May 2016 — Today, more than 40 participants from non-governmental organisations of ASEAN countries gathered in Hanoi for the two-day regional workshop, Toward an ASEAN Without Gender-Based Violence – NGO Experience in GBV Policy Influencing. This is an initiative of GBVNet facilitated by CARE International in Vietnam and the Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender, Family, Women and Adolescents (CSAGA), and funded by the Australian Government. Ms. Tran Tuyet Anh, Director of the Family Department at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Ms. Wendy Conway Lamb, First Secretary at the Australian Embassy in Hanoi, and Ms. Le Thi Kim Dung, Country Director of CARE International in Vietnam, delivered keynote speeches at the event.
The ASEAN region has seen significant progress in addressing violence against women in recent years through concerted policy action at both the regional and national levels. Most ASEAN member states have enacted dedicated national laws on violence against women and/or domestic violence, while some have developed National Action Plans to support the implementation of laws and policies. Government and civil society actors have provided services for women and girls who have experienced violence, including shelters, hotlines and One Stop Crisis Centers while police stations with dedicated women’s and children’s desks are now operating in several countries. Many countries have also implemented awareness-raising campaigns to reduce acceptance for violence against women.
However, progress has been uneven, with some forms of violence against women, such as marital rape and other forms of sexual violence, not always being covered in current legislation. Areas that still require further attention include data gaps on the extent and impact of violence against women; limited financial and human resources to support the enforcement of laws and the delivery of support services; and the pervasiveness of discriminatory gender norms and stereotypes that condone violence against women.
Recent research on the experiences of civil society organisations (CSOs) in influencing GBV policy in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam shows that CSOs in ASEAN countries face obstacles in advocating for laws and policies to prevent and respond to GBV. These include the legal environment in which they operate, funding, and their own organisational capacity. CSOs have had more success at advocating for policies related to GBV in the home than in public spaces and have found that “one-off” advocacy initiatives rarely work. The enabling environment for CSO operation is challenging in all countries. While CSOs generally have positive relationships with government counterparts around GBV, difficult operating environments limit their willingness to advocate strongly.
Ms. Nguyen Van Anh, Coordinator for Vietnam’s Gender-Based Violence Network (GBVNet) and Director for the Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender, Family, Women and Adolescents (CSAGA), says: “I think the loss due to violence against women is the same across races, nationalities and geographies. The only difference here is what solutions you take to prevent and stop it. The willingness for a better world without violence against women and girls brings us closer. Commitments and networks of organisations are established that link us together are very good foundation for us to share experience and to learn from each other, fostering a momentum for positive changes in society. Our actions today are important to build up a peaceful and happy ASEAN community”.
Sharing the view, Ms. Le Thi Kim Dung, Country Director of CARE International in Vietnam says: “As a pioneer NGO in women’s empowerment, CARE International in Vietnam finds the elimination of violence against women to be crucial for social justice and gender equality to blossom. This regional workshop is an opportunity for CARE International and other organisations to reflect on our experience in the Mekong region regarding gender-based violence policy influencing. I do hope that the collaboration among these CSOs will be consolidated to influence the development and implementation of GBV policies across the region, including in Vietnam.”
“Australia is committed to ending all forms of violence against women and girls,” says the Australian Ambassador to Vietnam, HE Mr. Hugh Borrowman. “In Vietnam, one in three women has experienced violence by their spouse within the past 12 months, but there are very low rates of women speaking out and seeking help. We fund activities like today’s event to make gender-based violence more visible.”
 CSO Policy Advocacy Gender-Based Violence, Robin Mauney, February 2016
GBVNet is a network of 16 international and local NGOs sharing same concerns on elimination of gender based violence in Vietnam. GBVNet has been established based on the existing DOVINET, an earlier incarnation of GBVNet, to actively contribute to gender-based violence prevention and response programs and to provide efficient and comprehensive services and information about GBV intervention programs.
CARE International in Vietnam is dedicated to ensuring long-term positive change for marginalised groups, especially women, by tackling the underlying causes of poverty, vulnerability, and social injustice.
Our goal is to support remote ethnic minority women and socially marginalised people in urban settings to:
1. have a legitimate and respected voice and be fairly represented in society
2. benefit equitably from sustainable development, and
3. develop stronger resilience to change and crises.
Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender, Family, Women and Adolescents (CSAGA) is a local NGO using innovative approaches to promote the rights of women and children who are vulnerable to discrimination and violence. CSAGA focuses on:
1. policy advocacy to establish an appropriate framework for women rights.
2. awareness raising and capacity building for communities on gender equality , and
3. protection of GBV victims through empowerment and timely support