Southeast Asian Women Create a Stir


“One fight, One Voice: Women, Assert Your Rights” was the overarching theme of JASS Southeast Asia’s 2nd annual One Day, One Voice regional campaign. Commemorating the global 16 Days of Activism to End Violence against Women, during the first week of December, Southeast Asian women from Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia & the Philippines took to the street to denounce the increasingly alarming rate of state-sponsored gender-based violence.

This year’s campaign was a vibrant testament to the power of sustained grassroots and local-to-regional organizing. Drawing from six years of JASS’ capacity and skills building training and support for the hundreds of grassroots, LGBTI, and indigenous women organizers, hundreds of women gathered in dialogues, demonstrations and marches across the region.

JASS Indonesia took the lead this year by spearheading a protest march in East Java where a hundred students, development workers and human rights defenders took to the streets to call for an end to sexual harassment and sexual violence. Using the media as a powerful medium, JASS Indonesia’s team went on to generate more knowledge and visibility about the campaign through critical discussions in several radio and television shows in the country.

Young women from the Cambodian Women’s Empowerment Network (CYWEN) worked to break the “culture of silence” among young people around the issues that matter to them, including rape, domestic violence, and migration by rallying 300 young women from various high schools and universities for a public forum on ending violence against women, which spawned significant radio and television coverage featuring young women’s voices. Women in Burma also targeted young people, organizing a half-day dialogue which attracted 400 young students, scholars, and villagers. In Malaysia, a two-day program on violence against women drew 50 women from different organizations.

JASS Philippines’ Manila-based organizations conducted four activities: a feminist discussion forum on the new cybercrime law that uses women’s issues to justify the curtailing of internet freedom, a photo opportunity activity to draw media attention on increasing state violence against women, and visible participation in the gay pride parade, and during marches on the International Human Rights Day.

Without a doubt, this year’s One Day, One Voice created a stir that attests to the collective strength of women in Southeast Asia. It showed the power of grassroots women’s organizing to put a spotlight on the issues that matter.