CHIANG MAI, Thailand – From 1 to 4 October 2018, Manushya Foundation and the Indigenous Women’s Network of Thailand (IWNT) co-organised a Human Rights Documentation workshop for Indigenous Women Human Rights Defenders, held in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The workshop, entitled, Project Inception & Human Rights Documentation Training, kicked-off the Evidence-Based Advocacy Research Paper project funded by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), administrated by the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok.
The 4-day training greatly benefited from the invaluable participation and contribution of the 21 Indigenous Women, representing 7 indigenous groups from all over Thailand, who identified the most challenging human rights issues faced by indigenous peoples and discussed innovative ways to ensure Indigenous Women’s voices are at the heart of the solution. In this project, Manushya Foundation aims to mentor Indigenous Women so they can become powerful Agents of Change, fighting gender inequality and power dynamics in traditional and patriarchal settings. Further, for us, supporting the empowerment of Indigenous Women is fundamental for the recognition of indigenous peoples in Thailand and the overall indigenous rights movement. Indigenous Women are at the forefront of the human rights and development responses, standing strong for their communities’ traditional ways of living, including the cultivation of their ancestral lands, respecting Mother Nature, and fighting back to protect their lands grabbed by corporations or taken away because of flawed government policies. As a result, it is critical for Manushya Foundation that Indigenous Women receive the human rights knowledge and tools which will enable them to voice their concerns on their own, conduct participatory women-led documentation, and assert their rights by proposing their very own solutions to the challenges faced by their communities.
Throughout the workshop, the Indigenous Women Human Rights Defenders were trained on Human Rights documentation methodologies and credible evidence based advocacy tools to promote and protect their rights across different advocacy contexts. In addition, through story telling sessions, Indigenous Women decided to focus their participatory research and policy advocacy on the core economic and social struggles faced by their communities, as per the following:
Indigenous Women's challenges in accessing citizenship;
Discrimination faced by Indigenous Women in accessing Social Services, in particular, health services;
Indigenous Women as Frontline Defenders of their Ancestral Lands: cases of land grabbing, threats and intimidation.
3.1. Land Eviction faced by Indigenous Peoples in the name of Government Policy;
3.2. Land Grabbing over Indigenous Ancestral Land perpetrated by Business Actors;
3.3. The Negative Impacts of the Forestry Masterplan and the Announcement of National Parks over the Ancestral Lands of Indigenous Communities.
Challenges in sustaining traditional indigenous ways of cultivating land: the case of Royal Projects.
By the end of November 2018, the members of the Indigenous Women Human Rights Defenders Network will be able to use the new knowledge they have gained to conduct human rights investigation and data collection within their own communities. Together with Manushya Foundation, they will conduct fact-finding missions in order to gather credible evidence to develop their very own research paper to be used in advocacy for the realisation of indigenous peoples rights in Thailand. In January 2019, a follow-up workshop will be held to analyse the data gathered.
Note: This project is a follow-up to the formation of the ‘Indigenous Women Human Rights Defenders Network’, which was built through Manushya Foundation’s Sub-granting project and funded by the British Embassy in Bangkok from June 2017 to March 2018.
Access pictures of the event here.