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NTS Centre Webinar on “COVID-19 and its impacts on the Women of Southeast Asia”

15 Jun 2020 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Webinar Abstract

In this time of compounding global crisis, the world needs to come together to not only fight COVID-19 but to also preserve our commitments to certain shared beliefs. One of these is to uphold the principle of gender equality even in the midst of this humanitarian crisis.

Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has a disproportionate impact on people, often as a result of factors such as gender, disabilities, ethnicities, socio-economic class, race and even age. When it comes to differentiated impacts, particularly on women, the UN Security Council Resolution 1325: Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, with its prevention, participation, protection and role in relief and recovery principles provides an excellent framework for a response strategy for COVID-19.

ASEAN already has a strong commitment towards the Women, Peace and Security agenda as outlined in its joint statement in 2017 on promoting women, peace and security in the region. Key in this statement is the “pledge to promote gender equality and reduce social inequalities between men and women in our societies as a way to contribute to longstanding peace and prosperity” and to protect women from “…discrimination and social exclusion.” All regional commitments on gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights should be upheld during COVID-19 as well. The principles of the ASEAN’s WPS agenda and other international gender equality standards must fully apply during this pandemic.

This webinar aims to bring together a panel of experts from the region to discuss how the WPS agenda can assist in response strategies for member states during COVID-19. More broadly the webinar hopes to highlight how gender inequality in the domestic, and wider political and socio-economic, spheres exaggerates and often prolongs the suffering of women during this pandemic. It will examine how governments, donors, NGOs and civil societies can work together to reaffirm the region’s commitments to the WPS agenda and gender equality and how these commitments can not only be sustained but be brought to the fore in this time.


About the Speakers

Sara Davies is Professor at School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University, Australia. Prof Davies is an International Relations (IR) scholar with a specific focus on Global Health Governance and the Women, Peace and Security agenda. She is author of Containing Contagion: The Politics of Disease Outbreaks in Southeast Asia (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019).

Serina Abdul Rahman is Visiting Fellow in the Malaysia Programme at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore, conducting research in the fields of sustainable development, environmental anthropology and the economics of the environment. Dr Serina co-founded Kelab Alami, an organisation formed to empower a Johor fishing community through environmental education for habitat conservation and economic participation in coastal development.

Maria Holtsberg serves as Humanitarian and Disaster Risk Reduction Advisor at the UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. Ms Holtsberg has over a decade of experience in Asia on gender-responsive measures in disaster risk reduction. Prior to joining UN Women, she worked for the International Planned Parenthood Federation Humanitarian Hub and with Asia Disaster Preparedness Centre. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, she serves as COVID coordinator for the UN Women regional office.

Ma. Lourdes Veneracion-Rallonza is Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines. Assoc Prof Rallonza is currently Director of the Gender and Atrocity Prevention Program of the Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, University of Queensland, Australia and one of the Conveners of the Independent Working Group on Transitional Justice and Dealing with the Past, Philippines.

Ayesah Uy Abubakar is the head of the Research Cluster on Ethnography & Development at the Borneo Institute for Indigenous Studies (BorIIS) in Universiti Malaysia Sabah. Dr Ayesah is a senior lecturer at the International Relations Programme of the Faculty of Humanities, Arts & Heritage at the same university. She teaches human rights, international humanitarian law, and peace and development among others areas of study.

Julia Abad has about 20 years of experience working in the fields of politics, public policy, and social development. At present, Ms. Abad is the Executive Director of the Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (PBCWE), which advocates for the increased participation and advancement of women in the workplace. Ms Abad has also worked in the non-profit sector as a research and communications specialist and was honoured as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2014 and recognised as one of Manila’s 40 under 40 Leaders in International Development by devex.com in 2013.


About the Moderator

Tamara Nair is Research Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.  Dr Nair’s current research focuses on issues of power and the biopolitics of labour and technology and the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda in the region. She is Singapore’s representative of the ASEAN Women for Peace Registry.

Click here to register.


S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies


Zoom Meeting