Vale – Lee Hyo-jae – Peace activist and researcher into the Korean “comfort women” from WWII

Vale Lee Hyo Jae
photo credit NY Times

Professor Lee, who died on 4th Oct. 2020 at the age of 95 years, At her death she was a professor emeritus of sociology at the prestigious Ewha Womans University in Seoul, where she inspired generations of young women. She founded the sociology department at Ewha in 1956. She began teaching the school’s first course in women’s studies in 1977, which led to the development of South Korea’s first graduate level women’s studies program.

Ms Lee was a remarkable woman and an inspirational ground breaker who pushed against social convention to fight for justice and equality her whole life.   In the 1940’s, when she was a young woman, her parents brought her to Seoul for an arranged marriage, but Ms. Lee ran away, believing marriage would interfere with her ambitions. She never married.  In 1945 she travelled with her sister, Hyo-suk

to the USA for a college education.  Despite not speaking English they sought assistance to attend the University of Alabama and Ms Lee went onto earn a bachelors degree from Alabama and a Masters degree in Sociology from Colombia University before returning to South Korea in 1957.

She founded the sociology department at Ewha the following year. She began teaching the school’s first course in women’s studies in 1977, which led to the development of South Korea’s first graduate level women’s studies program. Professor Lee was a prominent activist and a founder of women’s studies programs. Many of her students became leading feminists and rose to key positions in liberal governments.

Professor Lee turned down a number of offers to enter politics, preferring her roles as a teacher and an activist. In her later years, she helped found the Miracle Library, a national network of libraries aimed at children and teens in rural areas.

Professor Lee was lauded her bravery for taking up the cause of human rights and democratisation in a dictatorial era.  She was especially passionate about the cause of the “comfort women.” who were taken for use as sex slaves during World War II. As many as 200,000 women from Korea and other Asian countries were conscripted as sex slaves for Japanese troops beginning in the 1930s.  After decades of denial, the Japanese government in 1992 acknowledged its involvement, and South Korea and Japan reached a settlement in 2015 that involved an apology from the Japanese government and $8.3 million to provide care for the surviving women, who numbered around 45 at the time.

Restorative justice for ‘Comfort women’ was only one of many causes taken up by Professor Lee, one of South Korea’s foremost activists on behalf of women’s rights and democracy.  She helped abolish South Korea’s patriarchal naming system, a reform that allowed people to use two surnames to reflect their heritage from both parents, not just the father’s. She helped establish a requirement that half of a party’s candidates running for the National Assembly be women. She pushed for equal pay for equal work.

In 1995 Professor Lee was among a group of 30 female activists, including Gloria Steinem and the Nobel Peace laureates Leymah Gbowee and Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, who received international attention for making a rare trip  across the Demilitarized Zone separating the North and South to promote disarmament and peace between the two countries, which are technically still at war.

After her death, President Moon Jae-in said in a statement, “In the dark times when the stars were brighter, she was one of the most brilliant.” He posthumously awarded her a national medal, an honour she declined in 1996 because the same medal was being given to someone whom she believed to be a government agent planted in the women’s movement.

We thank and honour you for your work, your leadership and for who you were in this world Lee Hyo-jae and hold you in the spirit of the feminist sisterhood.

Our condolences to your family, friends, colleagues and community.

Vale Lee Hyo-jae

ARROW Statement – The time is now to accelerate the realisation of gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls!


APWW Endorsed Statement by ARROW

Twenty-five years ago this month, at the occasion of the Fourth World Conference on Women, representatives of governments and activists from across the globe came together to produce the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Through this instrumental outcome document, the platform gave us commitments in twelve critical areas of concern, envisioning gender equality in all dimensions, and a world where each woman and girl can exercise their freedoms and choices and realise all their rights.

Twenty-five years on, no country has fully realised this agenda, and many are far from reaching the goal of achieving gender equality. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed new challenges, it has exposed the existing multidimensional inequalities, reinforced long standing gender inequality with an increased severity and disproportionately impacting women and girls.  In Asia and the Pacific alone there has been an increase in unpaid care and domestic work, job and income loss, the effects of the lockdown have been seen on gender-based violence related risk, forced marriage and interrupted access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services.[i]

Women today in all their diversities remain marginalised and denied their human rights. Even before COVID-19, patriarchal, militaristic, and authoritarian governments were rising across the region leading to increased attacks on feminists and women and environmental human rights defenders. Women and girls continue to be made systemically invisible in decision making spaces including decisions regarding their own bodies which has made it impossible to uphold sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for all.

Gender equality does not just require addressing discrimination against women and girls, but also dismantling existing structures, social norms and institutions that replicate and promote the binary of femininity and masculinity, and centering people’s freedom, safety and dignity. The principles and actions of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action are more relevant and important today than ever if we want to build back better.

At this pivotal juncture, we urge member states to recommit to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action to ensure acceleration of actions to achieve gender equality in a measurable and meaningful way for all women and girls

Full Statement click here 

Beijing on my mind – Dr Patricia Licuanan

Beijing on My Mind – the Long, Winding and Bumpy Road to  and  from the UN 4th World Conference on Women

  IIn this video, Dr Patricia Licuanan a former Chair of Asia Pacific Women’s Watch revisits the long road to the UN 4th World Conference on Women and the hard fought  groundbreaking outcomes document the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPFA)  that came out of that conference.  Dr Licuanan discusses the importance of the BPFA.   As we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the BPFA and also celebrate the 10th Anniversary of UN Women, Dr Licuanan discusses how the platform and the actions contained therein are as relevant NOW as they were 25 years ago.  In rebuilding a more gender equal society in the wake of COVID-19 a lot can be drawn from these strategies and actions promised 25 years ago.

Enjoy the viewing   click here.


DAWN speaks out on COVID-19 – Global South perspective

Just in from DAWN ..

You are invited to join DAWN  third #DAWNtalks with Kumi Samuel and Vivien Taylor

The dramatic erosion of Human Rights during the COVID-19 pandemic calls for a multidimensional discussion.

Kumi Samuel (Sri Lanka) and Vivien Taylor (South Africa) are two remarkable activists from the Global South who will share their sharp feminist perspective on this theme.


To join the conversation click here

Honouring Feminist Strength in Times of Crisis – Virtual Film Premiere


This arrived from the IWHC …

Honoring Feminist Strength in Times of Crisis
Join Us Online To See Noelene’s Story

Watch the trailer now and join us for the premiere on 4/22!

On the day we would have gathered for IWHC’s Annual Dinner, join us online for a special film premiere celebrating our 2020 Joan B. Dunlop Honoree: Noelene Nabulivou. Be the first to see Noelene’s story and learn about her work advancing the health and rights of women, girls, LGBTQI people, and those most marginalized during times of crisis. While we can’t gather in person this year, we hope you’ll join our community online and celebrate the power and importance of women’s movements at this critical time.

Virtual Film Premiere
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
12 pm ET | 9 am PT (USA)

Watch the Trailer

Set a Reminder for the Online Premiere

The film will be streamed through the RSVP link and will remain live after the event time.

IWHC Joan B. Dunlop Award 2020
Noelene Nabulivou, Fiji

Co-Founder, Diverse Voices for Action and Equality (DIVA)

Noelene Nabulivou is a feminist grassroots organizer, policy analyst, activist, advocate, and movement-builder from Fiji. For over 35 years, Noelene has worked to affirm and protect universal human rights, and advance transformative approaches to gender, social, economic, ecological, and climate justice. She is the co-founder and outgoing political adviser of Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA) for Equality, a Fijian feminist collective led by lesbian, bisexual, transmasculine, and gender-nonconforming people that concentrates work in urban poor communities, rural, and remote constituencies of Fiji, and works with/for all women and people in the Pacific and globally.

I am so excited to share this film with you and can’t wait to see our community come together online. See you tomorrow!

Françoise Girard
President, IWHC

UN News : ECOSOC Financing for Development Forum meet to ramp up response to COVID-19 (10:00 a.m., 23 April 2020)

2020 ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development ramps up response to COVID-19 – Virtual meeting

WHEN:  10:00 A.M., 23 April 2020

WHERE:  Virtual Meeting (Live on

ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development will hold an informal virtual meeting, at 10 a.m., New York, 23 April 2020

The President of ECOSOC will convene a high-level virtual meeting to advance bold and concerted global action to address the immediate socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 and finance a quick, inclusive and resilient recovery.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to immense suffering for people across the globe. No nation is being spared by its devastating multi- dimensional impacts. The global health crisis has triggered economic and financial shocks, exposing and exacerbating existing vulnerabilities and inequalities.

Over the past two weeks, the entire UN membership has come together under the ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development to chart a programme of action to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, restore sustainable growth and put the global economy on a more sustainable path.

The programme of action (also serving as the outcome of the Forum), if adopted, represents the first universally agreed UN set of policies to finance COVID-19 response and recovery. The policy package aims to boost concessional finance for the most vulnerable countries, reduce debt vulnerabilities, facilitate smooth flows of essential goods and supplies, and align the massive relief investment with the 2030 Agenda.

The April 23 meeting, held under the auspices of the FFD Forum, will provide an opportunity to acknowledge these efforts as well as the solidarity and resolve of the entire UN membership in addressing the financing needs due to the COVID-19 crisis.


  • President of ECOSOC Mona Juul
  • UN Secretary–General António Guterres
  • UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande
  • Ms. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Board Chair, GAVI
  • Ms. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, Board Chair, Action Aid International
  • Mr. Jay Collins, Vice Chairman, Banking, Capital Markets and Advisory, Citigroup


The FfD Forum, now in its fifth year, is a global platform for policy and action to finance the SDGs, convening Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Development and Central Bank Governors, along with the heads of UN agencies, the World Bank and the IMF. The Forum has universal participation of 193 UN member states and permanent observers. The Forum’s outcome document contains policies and commitments to finance the SDGs, taking into account the trends and progress in development finance outlined in the latest Financing for Sustainable Development Report.

UN REGIONAL UPDATE :The COVID-19 Outbreak and Gender:  Key Advocacy Points from Asia and the Pacific

The COVID-19 Outbreak and Gender:  Key Advocacy Points from Asia and the Pacific

Authors/editor(s): GiHA WG

Emerging Gender Impacts

  • Exacerbated burdens of unpaid care work on women and girls: Where healthcare systems are stretched by efforts to contain outbreaks, care responsibilities are frequently “downloaded” onto women and girls, who usually bear responsibility for caring for ill family members and the elderly. The closure of schools further exacerbates the burden of unpaid care work on women and girls, who absorb the additional work of caring for children.
  • Meeting the needs of women healthcare workers: Women constitute 70 per cent of the workers in the health and social sector globally, and are on the frontlines of the response. Within this sector, an average gender pay gap of 28 per cent exists, which may be exacerbated in times of crises. Women healthcare workers have called attention to their specific needs beyond personal protective equipment, including to meet menstrual hygiene needs. Psychosocial support should also be provided to frontline responders.
  • and more…

To full report click here 

National Parallel Report on Beijing + 25 – Nepal

This report is the product of the inclusive participation of over 1,108 people from all over the country with the support of the government, non-government organisations, and UN agencies, particularly UN Women. It gathers feminist perspectives, adopting the NGO CSW/NY Guideline for Beijing +25 review. It consists of eight chapters, including separate chapters on ‘The Girl Child’, ‘ The Youth’s SRHR & She Decides’ and ‘A Feminist Position Paper’.

This report attempts to acknowledge the efforts made towards achieving Gender Equality, Empowerment of Women and Girls (GEEWG) in the last five years and highlights desired actions under every theme of the Beijing +25 review through the “Kathmandu Call for Action”, in order to fulfil the task of GEEWG as set by the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and as obligated by the CEDAW and CRC for achieving Generation Equality. It is a means to advocate for the achievement of generation equality in all levels of the government in Nepal.

Read report here National Parallel Report Beijing+25 – Nepal 


Asia Pacific Civil Society Forum on Beijing + 25 (23 – 26 November, 2019)

 Asia Pacific Women’s Watch (APWW) was one of 10 Organising Regional Networks who came together to coordinate and facilitate input and participation of civil society organisations into the Beijing +25 regional review process (and the SDG+5 review processes where there is convergence).

The Civil Society Forum, compiled of over 300 women’s rights and feminist organisations from the Pacific and Asia.  The Forum was three days of panels, parallel sessions and conversations organised around a framework of Anger (Day 1), Hope (Day 2) and Action (Day 3). The topics covered included women’s leadership, progress since Beijing in 1995, sexual and reproductive health rights, violence against women and how to do intersectionality, among others. There was an incredibly powerful network of disability justice activists present, who platformed the issues of women with disability and advocated for their full inclusion throughout the forum.

The Forum produced a Civil Society Statement from the Forum and further inputs from an on-line survey to the  Beijing +25 Review Intergovernmental Meeting following the CSO Forum.

Click here for The Civil Society Statement on Beijing + 25

Vica Larasati Speaks At Beijing+25 Review Intergovernmental Meeting/Photo:Ya Gan


The Young Feminist Forum which preceded this event shared their position in the opening remarks.

Click here for the Asia Pacific Young Women Call for Action B25 Statement

The CSO Forum Declaration Statement will be circulated for comment and finalised by end February, 2020 to be presented at CSE 64th Session in New York in March, 2020.


Young Women’s Feminist Forum on Beijing +25

The Young Feminist Forum was a day two event held in Bangkok, Thailand from the 21-22 November, 2019, directly  preceding the B+25 CSO Forum (23 – 26 November, 2019)  and the Intergovernmental Forum on Beijing +25 (27 – 29 November, 2019).  Over the 2 days of   The Young Feminist Forum  consisting of 75 young women from the Asia and Pacific region worked for the two days in  working group conversations on the 12 Critical Areas of the Beijing Platform  as well as other issues facing young women in the region.

Major discussion points included trade and development justice, climate change and LGBTIQ+ issues, and it was interesting to see that there was a shared language for LGBTIQ+ identities and shared challenges across the Asia-Pacific. The outcome of the Young Feminist Forum was a statement which I’ve attached for this email in case you’re interested in what young women have identified as their shared issues through the region.

By the end of the two days – the Young Women’s Forum on Beijing + 25 presented their political Statement . To read the Political Statement click Asia Pacific Young Women Call for Action B25


Carole Shaw

23 November, 2019