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Action for Gender Equality Conference: Keynote Speech by Marja Bijl

Dear friends, sisters and comrades,

It is an enormous honour to be standing here, among you, so many strong friends, some of whom I deeply admire.  Thank you so much for inviting me in this beautiful part of the world and in this beautiful country that is so near to my heart.

I must have been 6 years old,  I had just started primary school, when I told my grandmother very firmly: I am going to be a teacher when I grow up!  Mind you, it wasn’t just the new teacher that I liked, I was fond of my grandfather and he was the head teacher of the school. My grandmother laughed and told me that she had been a teacher before her marriage and that it was the best profession and that she had loved it. I asked her; ‘ so why did you stop being a teacher?’ She then explained that she had to, women were not allowed to work in those professions after they got married.  I don’t think I was very shocked at the age of 6 and when I was around 12 it still didn’t anger me. My grandmother was old, that period was far behind us, like in the dark ages or so. But it wasn’t the dark ages. I was born in 1956, and up untill that year married women were not allowed to work, and had to ask their husband permission to buy household appliances or even clothes. They couldn’t get money from the bank, according to the law they were not competent to do all this without their husband’s consent and autograph. So that situation is not thát long ago, at least I consider myself not thát old….. Needless to say that when I did realise, it infuriated me, women were considered incompetent and therefore second class citizens.

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Conference Summary: Challenges and Outlook to Asian Social Democracy

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Background

After an encouraging surge of democratic mobilization across Asia in recent years -- with the Malaysian opposition making massive electoral gains, Indonesia electing a grass-roots-driven president, and Myanmar’s junta ceding more power to the elected, civilian leadership -- a combination of authoritarianism and right-wing populism is besetting Asia’s most promising democracies, from India to the Philippines.

Over the past decade, Asia has maintained robust economic growth rates, giving birth to a rising middle class. Resource-based nations such as Mongolia have been among the world’s fastest growing economies, while Japan, South Korea, and China have maintained their lead in the global electronics, steel, and machinery market. New tiger economies such the Philippines have dispensed with their age-old image as ‘sick man of Asia’ by registering among the highest growth rates in the region and the world.

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Human Rights Under Assault: The Urgent Tasks for Progressives

Keynote speech by Etta Rosales
Challenges and Outlook to Asian Social Democracy
24 May 2017, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia


To our gracious hosts from the Mongolian People’s Party, to our partners in the Network for Social Democracy in Asia, especially our members of parliaments joining us today, to the leaders and emissaries of our sister parties to our friends from all over the world, thank you for allowing me to share some thoughts here with you today.

You may be aware that I come from a country where today, the President is actively engaged in disparaging and undermining the progressive ideas we stand for as a community. In the name of a popular campaign against illegal drugs which has claimed more than 9,000 lives, human rights and due process under the law have become collateral damage. And this is happening not only in the Philippines.

Across the region, reports from Human Rights Watch and even the US State Department point out critical patterns of abuse, discrimination and violence against minorities and opposition forces.

In Cambodia trade unions and anti-government forces are systematically attacked under laws that restrict freedoms of assembly under the guise of national security. More than 200000 prisoners are locked up in 27 jails that can only accommodate 11,000; and pre-trial detention of 6 months and 18 months for misdemeanors and felonies.

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