Scene at the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians as part of the APPF-26 (Photo APPF26 organising board)

Hanoi (VNA) - The Meeting of Women Parliamentarians of the 26th Annual Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF-26) opened in Hanoi on January 18, seeking ways to promote gender equality and empowerment of women and girls for sustainable development and shared prosperity in the region.

Opening the function, National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan said the APPF was formed in 1993, but the first meeting of women parliamentarians first took place at its 24th Annual Meeting hosted by Canada in 2016 under Indonesia’s initiative.

The second edition was held at last year’s APPF annual meeting in Fiji, she added, noting that the event has offered women parliamentarians from APPF members their own forum to discuss common concerns, form a network, and increase their presence and influence.

The top legislator, who is also APPF Chair for 2017 – 2018, said the APPF-26 expects to make the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians an annual mechanism via amendments to the APPF Rules of Procedure.

Ngan stated that gender equality is a consistent policy of Vietnam with the Constitution and Law of Gender Equality acknowledge equal rights on all aspects for all citizens, men and females alike.

The Vietnam National Assembly has actively contributed to realising gender equality goals of Vietnam and of the APPF, she stressed.

One of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goals is to touch upon gender equality while the other goals set specific targets for gender issues and address the gender-based aspects of poverty, hunger, healthcare, education, employment, climate change and more, said Truong Thi Mai, head of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee’s Commission for Mass Mobilisation.

“This strong focus on gender issues is a recognition that gender equality and empowerment of women and girls are key to each and every one of the goals,” she said.

Member economies of APEC are also concerned with the issue of gender equality, Mai added.

“At the 25th APEC Economic Leaders´ Meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam, APEC leaders also acknowledged greater economic participation by women spurs economic growth, and encouraged economics and the private sector to implement initiatives that enhance women´s economic empowerment, improve women´s access to capital, assets and markets, increase women´s participation in high-growth and high-wage sectors, and promote women´s leadership, entrepreneurship, skills and competencies”, she noted.

Mai stressed that parliaments must play a key role at the national and international level to represent and advocate for women’s rights, exercise legislative power to contribute to extensive legal changes to ensure women´s rights in each jurisdiction, make sure budget allocation are gender-responsive, and monitor the implementation of relevant regulations, policies and important decisions related to gender equality.

The meeting heard presentations and discussion from representatives of APPF members in a bid to encourage APPF women parliamentarians to engage deeper in the decision-making process, and join hands to promote gender equality in their nations and in the region for shared prosperity and development.

Lasting until January 21, the APPF-26 features four plenary sessions on the topics of politics-security, economics-trade, regional cooperation in Asia-Pacific, and the future of APPF.

The APPF was officially formed in Tokyo, Japan, in 1993. The forum now gathers 27 members.

The APPF is a mechanism that enables parliamentarians to discuss issues of common concern, and to deepen their understanding of the region and the interests and experience of its diverse members. The forum’s proceedings address political, security, economic, social and cultural issues, thus furthering regional cooperation and building relations between and among parliamentarians from the Asia-Pacific region.-VNA