Thai designer raises funds to help refugee women and girls
Author: Aijamal Duishebaeva
Bangkok, Thailand — Leading Thai designer and entertainer Vatanika Patamasingh hosted a gala event to raise funds for the life-changing work of UN Women supporting women and girls living in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh.
Actors, journalists and CEOs of Thai and Chinese businesses were among the about 60 people who attended the 26 June gala dinner in Bangkok that Vatanika hosted to celebrate the responses to her donation drive and to raise awareness about UN Women’s work in Cox’s Bazar.
“The purpose of this wonderful evening is not only to show gratitude to all of you, but to raise our voices for millions of women who need our support,” Vatanika said. “We need to fight for a decent world where a mother can earn enough to send her daughter to school, where a young girl can have an education, where she can be a doctor, where she can be a lawyer.”
As director of Vatanika Group, Vatanika became the first woman in senior management in Thailand to formally commit to Women’s Empowerment Principles for businesses. As part of her WEPs commitment, Vatanika committed to support women economic empowerment initiatives, UN Women’s fundraising efforts and to address gender equality in the field of fashion industry. Recognizing her support of UN Women and her commitment to women’s economic empowerment and gender equality, UN Women has awarded her the title of “Empower Women Champion for Change”.
As her first fundraising activity for UN Women, Vatanika focused on raising funds to support women and girls in need in Cox’s Bazaar. On her page, Vatanika raised 70,000 USD and 10,000 USD was raised at the gala event.
“I see a group of strong women that if only they have more knowledge and education, they will be able to protect themselves, to make a living, to look after their children and family.”
Escalating violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State triggered the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis in 2017. Since August 2017, more than 745,000 refugees have fled into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. More than half of them are women and girls.
UN Women set up in Cox’s Bazaar two Multi-purpose Women’s Centres that provide safety, psycho-social support, health care, and skills training. An average of 350 women visit the centres each day.
On her donations page, Vatanika said she wanted to support these centres and to see additional ones built. Of the displaced people in Cox’s Bazar, she said: “I see a group of strong women that if only they have more knowledge and education, they will be able to protect themselves, to make a living, to look after their children and family.”
One of the top donors, Ai Hirano, a business owner from China, talked at the gala event about what inspired her to donate.
“I have also faced many difficulties at the start of my career, so I know that it’s not easy to gain the same respect as a man,” she said. “To achieve gender equality, we need to speak up and never give up, but mostly believe in ourselves and support each other.”
Vatanika said she planned to also support women’s economic empowerment programmes in Thailand by organizing sewing skills training, providing fabric and materials to women’s groups, and helping workers get access to markets for their products.