Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen conferred the Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award to Filipina child rights advocate Amihan Abueva for her 30 years of unwavering commitment in fighting child trafficking, sexual exploitation, and all forms of violence against children in Asia.
Abueva currently serves as the regional executive director of Child Rights Coalition Asia, a network of non-profit organizations spanning 16 countries that promotes and upholds children’s protection and participation.
In her acceptance speech, she emphasized the importance of intergenerational dialogue in a functioning democracy.
“When we work to make space for children to have their questions, concerns, worries, and ideas listened to, we help them experience first hand what democracy is all about. Becoming a good citizen is like a muscle that has to be developed,” Abueva said.
Abueva said that collaboration fosters understanding among peers and paves the way for more children to become human rights defenders.
She also cautioned against “tokenistic engagement” with children and urged governments to dialogue and work genuinely with young citizens, especially on emerging concerns such as digital rights, mental health, climate change, and reproductive health and rights of children.
Abueva founded the Asia Against Child Trafficking initiative (ASIA-ACTS), a large anti-child trafficking network in Southeast Asia, and also led the global organization End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes International (ECPAT International).
She is only the second Filipino to receive the ADHRA since its inception in 2006. The Taiwan Foundation for Democracy established the award to inspire human rights defenders in the region and provide them with confidence and strength by recognizing their impactful efforts.