Mekong Migration Network (MMN), as part of the Chiang Mai Civil Society Network for Gender Equality, co-organised an event on 8 March to celebrate International Women’s Day 2023 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. “Rise for Freedom and Equality” was the theme of this year’s event, which gathered a diverse cross section of women leaders and groups, including those focusing on the rights of women sex workers, LGBTQ, indigenous women, women living with HIV, migrant women, as well as women education.
Over 200 women and allies joined a rally in a show of solidarity for women around the world, re-affirming the commitment to continuously advancing women’s rights and creating a safe space in which women feel empowered to thrive. At Tha Pae Gate, Chiang Mai, the destination of the march, Ms. Jiraporn Chaoprayoon Yamamoto from the Chiang Mai Provincial Social Development and Human Security Office gave a speech underscoring the importance of promoting gender equality through collective action and pledging to relay participants’ demands to the Chiang Mai govenor.
In light of the structural violence, discrimination and violations that women continue to face, a joint statement was read with the following seven demands:
- Support women’s access to resources and provide equal opportunities for all goods of women;
- Empower women at all levels, so that they can become change-makers, who strongly believe in human rights and social justice;
- Support social and political participation and decision-making by women at all levels, including participation in humanitarian crises and sustainable development;
- Foster people’s movements for gender and social justice by ensuring inclusion of women’s rights issues at all levels– local, national, regional and international;
- Support and promote media to raise awareness of the human rights of women and LGBTQ individuals in all aspects, including addressing the intimidating stigma of gender stereotyping;
- Push for policies and legal changes that ensure participatory democracy and empower women by applying various human rights instruments and international laws, such as UDHR and CEDAW; and
- Promote the participation of civil society and community in evaluating and monitoring processes of improving women rights that the Thai government is committed to, after ratifying international human rights instruments.
In a following roundtable discussion on the theme of “Rise for Freedom”, representatives from various migrant-led groups and civil society organisations explored the intersections between gender, migration, disability, sexuality and indigeneity, among other topics. Panellists discussed the limited education opportunities targetted at women with disaibilities; the criminalisation of sex work in Thailand; the wage gap between men and women; land and natural resources rights for indigenous groups; and the space for queerness in Thailand. On the topic of migration, the impacts of the Myanmar coup on migrant women’s documentation and the restricted education opportunities for migrant children due to frequent relocation were some of the key issues raised.
MMN thanks all participants and attending civil society groups for their involvement in a pleasurable and engaging day of thoughtful conversations, strengthening existing networks or creating new ones, and dancing. We look forward to convening again for the next International Women’s Day as well as other occasions in the intervening period.