KASAMA Vol. 18 No. 3 / July-August-September 2004 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network

30 JUNE TO 3 JULY 2004

Old Commitments, New Struggles Mark Asia Pacific NGO Forum Opening

Commitments were reaffirmed, new feminists welcomed and a human rights protest marked the 30 June 2004 opening of the Asia-Pacific (AP) NGO Forum on Beijing +10. The 4-day event took place in Thailand at Mahidol University in Nakorn Pathom, about 50 kilometres west of the capital Bangkok.

THE FORUM sought to assess as well as analyse the efforts in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) over the past ten years. In particular, it sought to celebrate the gains made by women actively working for the BPFA's full implementation; to identify remaining gaps that need to be worked on; and to confront emerging issues directly concerning women. At the end of the day, it was clear the women did not want to re-open the BPFA for re-negotiation; rather, they wanted to see its full implementation.

At the opening ceremonies, Thailand's Privy Councillor to the King welcomed the participants and expressed the "gratitude of the King for being chosen as the host country of this significant conference for the benefit of the world's women." The president of Mahidol University, also expressed his appreciation at having Mahidol as the host venue. The Forum's host committee report was delivered by Pawadee Thonguthai, Vice-chairperson of the AP NGO Forum, in behalf of chairperson Thanpuying Sumalee Chartikavanij of Thai Women Watch who was reportedly ill. The report reiterated that such gatherings are the "true product of regional convergence." While the commitment of earlier women's groups have waned since The Fourth World Conference of Women in Beijing in 1995 and succeeding NGO regional conferences, the report noted new groups and a new generation of feminists who have committed themselves to continue the work and advocacy. Thus, the event was also seen as a "convergence of the old and new generation with the same commitment."

Dr. Patricia Licuanan, chairperson of the AP NGO Forum, also welcomed the participants. She said the forum was a way of "looking back" at the BPFA's achievements as it was also a "leap forward" in terms of continuing the advocacy for the women of the world. She also said the Asia-Pacific region set the standards for other regions in terms of organising such collaborative efforts around the BPFA, thus the region should also "take the lead in keeping the spirit of Beijing alive."

After the opening ceremonies, a small protest was staged in front of the President's Office building where the main plenary sessions were held. The protest was a rally for women human rights defenders who had become targets of human rights abuses themselves. The rally was part of a global mobilisation campaign to "defend the women's rights defenders" and was organised by the Asia Pacific Women in Law and Development (APWLD).

Simultaneous workshops were held on the first day: "Lobbying and the Beijing +10 Process" by the Asia Pacific Women Watch (APWW), "Gender Mainstreaming: The True Story" by South East Asia Watch (SEAWATCH), and "Ensuring Young People's Meaningful Participation and Incorporating Their Perspectives in the Cairo and Beijing ++ Processes" by the Network of Asia Pacific Youth (NAPY).

Isis International-Manila and the World Association of Community Broadcasters Women's International Network (AMARC-WIN) conducted a live coverage of the AP-NGO Forum on the Internet. The webcast provided a live feed of the four major plenary sessions as well as opening and closing ceremonies. The entire session on the workshop on women and media entitled "Section J Revisited: New Feminist Perspectives on the Interlinkages of Media and ICTs with Economic Globalisation, Fundamentalisms and Militarism" was also covered.
These audio files may be downloaded from the Isis website at the following link:
The onsite reports from the Forum are also available on the following link:
To download papers presented at the plenaries, please go to the official Forum website at