Asia News


China will continue to support UNESCO in empowering more women and children to embrace a brighter future via platforms created by the development of the Belt and Road, said Peng Liyuan, wife of President Xi Jinping.

Peng, UNESCO special envoy for the advancement of girls’ and women’s education, made the remark at a special session on girls’ and women’s education held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on Tuesday. She was accompanying Xi on a state visit to France.

Peng said promoting education of girls and women is a lofty cause that deserves attention, support and dedication from more people.

After some laureates of the UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education gave brief remarks on their understanding and promotion of the undertaking, Peng said she appreciated the efforts made by the United Nations body and the prizewinners.

In discussing her work in this field over the past five years, Peng referred to the Spring Bud Project, a program launched by China Children and Teenagers’ Fund to both help female school dropouts return to the classroom as well as improve teaching conditions in impoverished areas.

Knowledge and skills are two great forces that can change the lives of women, and with equal and quality education, they all have the opportunity to be outstanding, she added.

In the meeting with UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay before the special session, Peng said China firmly supports the UN body and her work, and she hopes China and UNESCO will continue to deepen cooperation to jointly promote world peace and prosperity as well as the progress of human civilization.

Azoulay said that China has made great achievements in the past 70 years, including progress in the development of education and women’s rights.

UNESCO highly values the cooperation with China and the support from China is of great importance under current circumstances, she said.

In an interview with Xinhua News Agency, Azoulay spoke highly of Peng as a UNESCO special envoy.

“Peng is particularly committed to the central role of teachers in gender equality,” Azoulay said, adding that UNESCO appreciates the contribution of Peng to educating girls and women, as well as the long-term partnership with China in helping ensure that access to quality education for all becomes a reality.

Peng was nominated as a UNESCO special envoy on March 27, 2014. Since then, Peng has worked closely with UNESCO to promote equal rights for women in education, self-development and in achieving success, Azoulay said.

Supported by the Chinese government, the UNESCO prize directly contributes to the attainment of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those dealing with education and gender equality.

Source: China Daily

Indonesian voters have yet to directly elect a female president, but more high-profile women than ever are leading parties and running for office as the political ground shifts in the world’s third-largest democracy.

Megawati Soekarnoputri, the daughter of Indonesia’s founder, chief of the country’s largest political party and former president (she was appointed), remains the most influential politician. Her move to veto President Joko Widodo’s first choice of a running mate underscored her stature as the kingmaker. There are also two of former dictator Suharto’s daughters and the daughter of former president Abdurrahman Wahid wielding considerable political clout in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

While incumbent Widodo is pitching for better representation of women in politics — he has eight females in his cabinet holding important ministries such as a finance and foreign — his challenger Prabowo Subianto says he believes more in output than tokenism. With women marginally outnumbering men among the country’s total 193 million voters, they have a chance to determine who gets to rule Indonesia for the next five years.

While Megawati is the only woman to have contested the Indonesian presidential polls since direct elections were introduced in 2004, there are several women who could make a future bid. Here’s a look at the most influential female politicians in Indonesia.

Megawati Soekarnoputri

At 72, Megawati, may be too old for taking another shot at the top job. She became Indonesia’s only female president after Wahid, known as Gus Dur, was impeached by the parliament for incompetence. But as the founder of ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, she decides who gets to become the party’s nominees for important posts such as governor, regents and mayors.

She contested the elections in 2004 and 2009 and lost to Susilo Bambang Yudhyono on both the occasions. Her daughter Puan Maharani is a senior member of Jokowi cabinet. Megawati remains a champion of women’s causes and wants to see more females step up to important political jobs.

“Why don’t Indonesian women want to be like me? Not to brag about myself, but up until now, I’m the only president of Indonesia who is a female,” she said at her birthday bash in late January, Kompas news portal reported.

Siti Hediati Hariyadi

Nicknamed Titiek, Hariyadi is one of Suharto’s six children and the ex-wife of Prabowo. She quit Golkar, a party founded by her father, ahead of the presidential poll to join the Berkarya Party that was formed by her brother Hutomo Mandala Putra, known as Tommy Suharto.

The siblings’ coming together with Berkarya Party is seen by many analysts as the return of the Suharto dynasty into political arena after lying low since their father was toppled from power in 1998. Titiek, 58, is supporting Prabowo.

Grace Natalie

Natalie, a former popular news anchor, quit her profession and founded a party for the country’s millennials. The 36-year-old s the only commoner among the grand dames of Indonesian politics and is already raising some uncomfortable questions about the nation’s political customs and practice.

Natalie, who co-founded the Indonesian Solidarity Party with four of her colleagues, offers an antithesis to conventional politics for more than 80 million millennial voters. Her party is focused on issues important to women and youth, such as education and lowering income tax for millennials, in its bid to become a national political force.

The party has turned heads with its demands for an end to polygamy and an amendment to draconian blasphemy laws. It’s also started conferring ‘lie awards’ to politicians making hollow or misguided statements as a way to ensure more accountability among politicians. Natalie’s party is backing Jokowi.

Yenny Wahid

The daughter of Gus Dur, Wahid is former director of Wahid Institute and a political force as the heir of the founding family of Nahdatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim organization. A former journalist with a masters from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Wahid wields considerable clout among the members of Nahdatul Ulama, which also controls the National Awakening Party.

While politicians across parties revere the Gus Dur family, Wahid threw her support behind Jokowi’s bid for a second term, saying a leader must be modest and be able to meet people’s basic needs.

Rahayu Saraswati

Saraswati is the latest entrant to the long line of political inheritors. The daughter of oil and gas tycoon Hashim Djojohadikusumo, she’s the deputy chief of Prabowo’s Gerindra party with and holds responsibility for its women’s wing. She’s Prabowo’s niece.

A Chinese-Christian, Saraswati doesn’t believe a greater number of women in top positions would guarantee gender issues will be addressed in conservative Indonesia. The effort must go beyond that. “I will instill gender perspective in as many men as possible,” the 33-year-old said in an interview.

Indrawati, Marsudi

Jokowi has women heading some of the most important ministries in his government. While they’re not politicians, they have come to symbolize the rise of women in Indonesia’s public life.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati is a former economist and managing director at the World Bank and is one of the most prominent faces of Jokowi’s cabinet. Retno Marsudi, the first female foreign minister, is a career diplomat and Fisheries and Maritime Minister Susi Pudjiastuti is a successful businesswoman credited with turning the fortunes of the marine industry and curbing illegal fishing.

Source: Bloomberg

Professional services firm Deloitte said it will provide education and skills training to 10 million girls and women in India with an aim to equip them to find a meaningful work.

The exercise will be carried out under its global initiative World-class, Deloitte said in a statement.

The initiative aims “to support 10 million girls and women by 2030 through education and skills development,” it said.

It said that globally, the World-class initiative seeks to prepare 50 million people to be better equipped for the future of work, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Deloitte’s World-class programme in India will focus on improving girls’ retention rate in school, higher educational outcomes, and skills development for women to access employment, it added.

Under the initiative, partnerships will be launched with organisations such as Katha and Pratham. These organisations are working to improve the learning outcomes of millions of children and young people in schools and communities across India.

Our goal with WorldClass is to empower 50 million people globally by 2030, by providing them access to the education and skills required to find meaningful work in the new economy,” Punit Renjen, Global CEO, Deloitte said.

The world is on the brink of a seismic shift with the emergence of the Industry 4.0 wave, and to thrive in it, “we must work together so that no one is left behind, he said.

Across India, he said, almost 40 per cent of girls aged 15-18 years drop out of school and college, and only 26 per cent of women are employed.

As one of the emerging economies on the world stage today, India’s demographic dividend forms an integral component of its growth story. The task of harnessing its power has to be fueled by the private sector,” a Deloitte India spokesperson said.

Source: Economic Times India

A NEW breast cancer drug shown to significantly reduce the risk of cancer recurrence is being made available to women in Singapore from today via a Special Access Program.

The drug, NERLYNX (neratinib) is an oral medication taken by women with HER2+ breast cancer who have completed adjuvant trastuzumab-based therapy.

NERLYNX has been shown to significantly reduce the ongoing risk of recurrence in HER2+ early breast cancer patients.1 The greatest benefit was observed in women who were also hormone-receptor positive (HR+) and treated within 12 months following completion of trastuzumab-based adjuvant therapy. Their five-year risk of recurrence or death was reduced by 42%. In these patients, invasive disease-free survival (iDFS) was 90.8% in the patients treated with neratinib, compared with 85.7% in those receiving placebo (hazard ratio = 0.58; 95% CI: 0.41−0.82; p = 0.002).

ST Asia Chief Executive Officer Mr. Carlo Montagner said a formal registration decision was not expected by Singapore’s HSA before 2020, although he noted that NERLYNX is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

“Data from the pivotal clinical trial tells us that the greatest benefit is seen in women who commence therapy as soon as possible after their adjuvant trastuzumab-based treatment has been completed,” he said.

“Therefore, it is critical that women in Singapore who have recently completed adjuvant trastuzumab-based therapy or are about to complete adjuvant trastuzumab-based therapy, are provided access now to NERLYNX while the registration process is underway.”

International breast cancer authority Professor Arlene Chan was the lead investigator and primary author in the pivotal Phase III trial of NERLYNX, ExteNET.2

Professor Chan said its availability in Singapore and other regions would be “a huge step forward” to further reduce the risk of cancer recurrence in local women diagnosed with HER2+ early breast cancer.

“Despite the clear proven benefit of standard of care chemotherapy and trastuzumab therapy, women diagnosed with early-stage HER2+ breast cancer are still at risk of disease recurrence,” Professor Chan said.

“This drug provides women with an opportunity to remain disease-free who may otherwise have had a recurrence.”

Singapore health data shows that breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the country, accounting for almost 30% of all cancer cases. It is estimated that one in 15 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer before age 75.3

NERLYNX is made available in Singapore by Specialised Therapeutics Asia, under exclusive license from Puma Biotechnology, Inc.


NERLYNX (neratinib) is an irreversible tyrosine kinase inhibitor that blocks signal transduction through the epidermal growth factor receptors, HER1, HER2 and HER4.4,5

NERLYNX is the first HER2-targeted medication approved by the FDA as extended adjuvant treatment for early-stage HER2-positive (HER2+) breast cancer, for patients who have previously been treated with trastuzumab following surgery (i.e., adjuvant trastuzumab-based therapy).4 NERLYNX is also the first anti-HER2 treatment to be EC-approved as extended adjuvant therapy for early stage HR+ / HER2-positive breast cancer following adjuvant trastuzumab-based therapy.5

Extended adjuvant therapy is the next step of treatment that follows adjuvant therapy (treatment after surgery) to further reduce the risk of breast cancer returning.

NERLYNX is an oral tablet and works by binding to multiple receptors inside the cancer cell, blocking signals that tell cancer cells to grow and multiply.

About HER2+ Breast Cancer

Approximately 15−20% of breast cancer tumours over-express the HER2 protein. HER2+ breast cancer is often more aggressive than other types of breast cancer, increasing the risk of disease progression and death. Although research has shown that trastuzumab can reduce the risk of early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer returning after surgery, over 25% of patients treated with trastuzumab experience recurrence.6                                               

About the ExteNET Study,2, 7

The ExteNET trial was a double-blind, placebo-controlled, Phase III trial of neratinib versus placebo after adjuvant treatment with trastuzumab in patients with early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer.

The ExteNET trial randomized 2,840 patients in 41 countries with early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer who had undergone surgery and adjuvant treatment with trastuzumab. After completion of adjuvant treatment with trastuzumab, patients were randomised to receive neratinib or placebo for a period of one year. Patients were then followed for recurrent disease, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), or death for a period of five years after randomisation.

The primary endpoint of the trial was invasive disease free survival (iDFS). The trial demonstrated that after a median follow up of 5.2 years, treatment with neratinib resulted in a 27% reduction of risk of invasive disease recurrence or death versus placebo (hazard ratio = 0.73, p = 0.008). The 5-year iDFS rate for the neratinib arm was 90.2% and the 5-year iDFS rate for the placebo arm was 87.7%.7

An additional five-year sub-group analysis demonstrated a 42% risk reduction in women who were HR+ and who had commenced neratinib therapy within 12 months of completing treatment with trastuzumab.7

Puma is conducting a Phase II CONTROL study investigating various prophylactic anti-diarrhoeal regimens for the first 1-2 cycles of neratinib therapy. Emerging data suggest that prophylactic management reduces the incidence, severity and duration of neratinib-associated diarrhoea as compared with events observed in ExteNET.

About Specialised Therapeutics Asia

Headquartered in Singapore, Specialised Therapeutics Asia Pte Ltd (STA) is an international biopharmaceutical company established to commercialise new therapies and technologies to patients throughout South East Asia, as well as in Australia and New Zealand. STA and its regional affiliates collaborate with leading global pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies to bring novel, innovative and life-changing healthcare solutions to patients affected by a range of diseases. Its mission is to provide therapies where there is an unmet need. The company’s broad therapeutic portfolio currently includes novel agents in oncology, haematology, neurology, ophthalmology and supportive care.

Source: PR Newswire

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) wants the government to show firm commitment in enacting the Gender Equality Act in a bid to curb discrimination.

Its executive director, Sumitra Visvanathan, said such law was needed to ensure that women would be protected in every aspect of life.

“We actually have been advocating the act for quite a while with JAG (Joint Action Group for Gender Equality) to draft the act, but we now want to know what are the next steps and when will it happen as we want things to move forward as planned to see the legislation done.

“There are some indications saying that it will be done in 2020, yet there is nothing from the government for this until today,“ she told reporters after the launch of a report on the status of women’s human rights after 24 years of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) in Malaysia here today.

Meanwhile, International Women’s Right Action Watch Asia Pacific director Mary Shanthi Dairam said the government should define clearly what constitutes to discrimination before tabling any bills.

Mary, who is also the WAO executive council member, said current laws do not adequately prohibit gender discrimination in all fields.

“Constitutional guarantees of equality have been interpreted narrowly by the courts to not include the private sector.

“Hence, women in the private sector will continue to suffer in silence due to the delay in enacting the law,“ she said.

She said when women get discriminated at work, they have few or no options for redress at all.

“The act should not only prohibit gender discrimination, but also ensure that women who experience discrimination can easily get justice – without having to go through a lengthy, tiring, and costly process,“ she said.

The report, among others, highlighted critical issues in women’s human rights such as female circumcision, gender inequality in citizenship and discrimination against transgender women.

It was coordinated by WAO and JAG with input from 38 non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Mary said the report was something that the groups hope would help the government to see the gaps in gender equality.

“The report should not be seen as something that is finding fault with the government but rather as something that can help the government to identify where the gaps are, “she said.

Source: The Sun Daily

At the 17 June event, Student artists from Quezon City high schools show their painting skills on the roads leading to the main building of Quezon City Hall. Photo: UN Women/ Dominic Mananghaya

On a day celebrating the Philippine’s freedom from colonial rule, 65 high school students painted pictures on roads by Quezon City Hall to call for another kind of freedom—for women and girls to go about public spaces without fear of sexual harassment.

The Quezon City Local Government held the Street Art Painting Project on 17 June, Independence Day, in partnership with UN Women Safe Cities Metro Manila Programme. In bright, bold colors, the student artists painted the roads from the entrance to the main building of Quezon City Hall with words and images depicting the problem of harassment and calls for everyone to help build safe public spaces. “Stop Violence against Women,” was among the painted appeals.

“We are painting this road because we want women to be empowered not only in the Philippines but all over the world,” said Jade L. Lusterio, 15, student from Flora A. Ylagan High School.