Insufficiency of men’s role in stopping women’s rights violations in the southernmost provinces of Thailand
Dated: 28 November 2016
“It is undeniable that men’s role in ending women’s rights violation in the southern border regions of Thailand is inadequate and not concrete” said Mrs. Soraya Jamjuree, a specialist working in the Academic Department of Community Service and Women’s Empowerment at Prince of Songkla University, Pattani Campus.
The intensified insurgency in the southern border areas of Thailand, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, has been a long-standing problem since 2004. The origins of the violence lie in the complex historical relations and perceived discrimination by government against the culture of local people. Women and girls have been especially vulnerable to situations of unrest, injustice and various kinds of violence, such as domestic violence, enforced disappearance and impoverishment. After years of conflict, it is clear that, in order to find a sustainable solution to women’s rights violations, everybody needs to be involved in the peace process, including men.
In the southernmost part of Thailand, there are 23 civil society organisations (CSOs) supervised by Women’s Agenda for Peace (PAW), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working to secure women’s rights, but only 3 organisations have men as leaders: Civil Society Council of the Southernmost Thailand (CSCS), Deep South Watch (DSW) and Centre for Conflict Studies and Cultural Diversity (CSCD). Therefore, men’s participation in this type of organisation remains low, and it is important to raise public awareness of men’s actions in stopping women’s rights violations. Men can provide critical leadership as community leaders and decision-makers in speaking out, standing together with women and taking action to end violence.
There are some previous examples of men who have contributed greatly to the promotion of women’s rights in these provinces that could serve as example for men’s involvement as agents of change for gender equality. The Network of Civic Women for Peace (NCWP) and the Government of Thailand – represented by the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) – created Democratic Peace Dialogue in the community. This women’s peace platform, with men’s participation, aims to discuss the peace process and solution-seeking together. Such dialogue can pave the way for peace-building and promotion of women’s right to be free from all forms of violence. Moreover, Note Udom – a famous comedian in Thailand – has been a major benefactor for girl victims of violence, working with the Association of Children and Youth for Peace in the Southernmost Provinces. This is an exemplary conduct that exhibits how males can play a more pivotal role in supporting their female counterparts.
This is an ongoing issue, which urgently needs to be solved. Gender equality can only happen if both sexes have a genuine interest in working together to tackle the issue. As an intern of HeForShe solidarity movement, I would like to urge everyone, especially men and boys, to play a more meaningful role in promoting women’s rights.
Alina Sakulsiriwiriya is a graduated student from the Faculty of Law, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand and now taking her internship at UN Women Asia and the Pacific Regional Office, for the HeForShe campaign.