International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated every year on March 8. It was inspired by the female suffrage movement and is a day to bring attention to gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence against women.
The theme for this year is Embrace Equity. It is about recognizing that every woman has different needs, and different starting points, so we need to give the right kind of support to help them thrive and be fully included in all aspects of society.
We talk about gender equality a lot, partly because it is a phrase people understand, but equal opportunities are not enough! It assumes that everyone starts in the same place, so if you help everyone the same amount, they will all end up on an equal playing field.
But we know that people do not have the same starting point. Many groups of people experience disadvantage and discrimination, especially women, with centuries of history of patriarchy, culture, and discrimination. Add to that being a woman of color, not fitting the gender binary, having a different sexual orientation, having disabilities, or being a mother in the workforce, and there are many more challenges to deal with. Not only are some people disadvantaged, but others have centuries of history, laws, and power ensuring that their voice is more heard, but they also have access to more opportunities, and their needs are automatically considered.
Equity is about the intended outcome. It can be defined as giving everyone what they need in order to be successful. The goal is to change the systemic and structural barriers that get in the way of people’s ability to thrive. Equity looks to make policy changes and take into account lived experiences of different communities, with long-term solutions.
What We Are Doing to #Embraceequity at the Center for Girls Foundation
“We are committed to embracing equity for women in all aspects of our work. As part of project design process, we consider the unique contexts of the women participating in our activities. We recognize that providing equal opportunities is not enough, as each woman comes from a different starting point. We work with diverse women, including those from ethnic minority groups with different cultural beliefs, values and languages. Some may not even have Thai citizenship. To ensure that our work is exclusive and empowering for all, we strive to create an environment that takes into account the diverse lived experiences of individuals and communities,” Nunnaree Luangmoi, CFG Founder and Director.
CFG helped to find the Mae Ying Women’ council in Chiang Khong. This is a woman-driven mechanism that supports women in their roles in the work on gender equality in dimensions of society, health, economy, environmentally friendly agriculture, and ethnic groups. The council works with government and local administration organizations to work efficiently.
One project they are doing with the help of CFG is to come up with six participatory, women-led research proposal topics for women in indigenous ethnic groups. This includes looking into child marriage among the Highland Lahu ethnic groups, research on the customs of forbidding women from returning to their hometown after divorce or being widowed in the Hmong ethnic group, comparative research studies on the effects of chemical and organic agriculture in Chaing Khong, raising awareness of symptoms of depression among women, and studying careers to generate income for women to have a sustainable income in Chaing Khong.
Another success story is of supporting women in leadership. One woman after our support and guidance, gained confidence and inspiration to run for the position of Village Headwoman. Despite the patriarchal norms and the fact only 3 out of 102 village head positions were held by women (we are proud to say there are now 6), Ms. Tandee courageously ran for election and made history by winning the race. She appointed two more female assistants, making the entire leadership team in her village composed of women. This is a significant step in breaking down gender barriers and helping women thrive in their communities
– Aimee Vulinovich
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