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GAINS of GENDER EQUALITY: Framing Discourses on Gender Equality and Women’s Rights Amidst Religious Resistance in Southeast Asia

An Inter-Movement Dialogue among Academics and CSOs from Southeast Asia

10-11 August 2018

Bangkok, Thailand


The premise of this regional dialogue is that Southeast Asian societies are strengthened by practices of gender equality at the economic, political, and socio-cultural spheres. It is founded on the belief that while the advocacy for women’s rights is led by women, its achievement will also benefit men and liberate them from the systemic socialization of power, dominance, and violence. It is also founded on the belief that sexual rights or sexual autonomy are central forms of freedoms. They are freedoms not just for people of non-conforming sexualities (LGBTQI), but for all who desire sexual expression free from repressive sociocultural taboos.

The lifelong struggle of many for gender equality, women’s rights, and sexual autonomy are gender and sexual practices that shape human rights and peace policies and narratives in everyday life. In some analysis, gender practices in human rights and peace are not visible. In other cases, gender may be added on to human rights and peace advocacy.

This dialogue sought to strengthen an integrative approach to understanding human rights and peace as inherently shaped by gender and sexual practices. As a culminating activity of the four-year SHAPE-SEA program, the committees, namely Research, Publications, Education, and Academic Partnerships and Public Advocacy, came together to launch a Regional Dialogue entitled, Gains of Gender Equality: Framing Discourses On Gender Equality and Women’s Rights Amidst Religious Resistance in Southeast Asia


The two-day dialogue intended to generate collective learning, collaborative leadership and co-creation of actions for strengthening human rights and peace in SEA through:

  1. Exchanges on the gains in the area of gender equality in SEA across spheres of life – at the policy level, economic conditions, and/or socio-cultural practices despite the challenges of religious blocks;
  2. Sharing of approaches of overcoming restrictive religious traditions that have led to strengthening women’s exercise of power/empowerment particularly among women from the most marginalized sectors of societies in SEA;
  3. Conversations about the different ways of challenging religious resistance to sexual freedoms and the silence surrounding sexuality and sexual politics in the Southeast Asian context, particularly among people of nonconforming sexualities;
  4. Identifying what works, what needs to continue and what else needs to be done to ensure that notwithstanding religious extremism, gender and sexual practices are integral to understanding and shaping human rights and peace in SEA.