In Thailand, #HeforSheAtHome rallies men and boys to cook, clean and care for equality

Date: Wednesday, August 26, 2020

With COVID-19 shutdowns shining a light on gender inequality in the home, thousands of Thai men respond by embracing the #HeForSheAtHome campaign and taking on their fair share of household labor and standing up against violence. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic restricts the world indoors, billions of people are finding themselves face-to-face with the gender inequalities that have defined women and girls’ experience in the home for centuries. Globally, the burden of housework and childcare falls disproportionately on women and girls, and in completing at least two and a half times more unpaid labor in the home than their male counterparts, mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives find themselves limited from the paid opportunities, free time, and independence enjoyed by male family members. The COVID-19 pandemic has also increased violence against women in many countries. It has put women at greater risk of violence as their movements are restricted, economic situations have become more precarious and protection systems are weakened. 

This disparity between women and men’s labor in the home and violence against women are international barriers to gender equality—but in Thailand, men and boys are breaking this barrier down. 

To raise awareness about the unfair burden of household responsibilities carried by women, to create respectful relationships at home and to shift gender norms, the UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific launched the #HeforSheAtHome challenge in Thailand, encouraging men and boys to take on more of such responsibilities at home, challenging men to raise awareness on gender inequality in the home by using social media to share their most creative moments as they complete their equal share of household chores and speak up against violence.

Since its launch, the campaign’s message has resonated with millions across Thailand. Husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons have filled the #HeforSheAtHome and #อยู่บ้านเพื่อเธอ hashtags with everything from cooking-and-cleaning dance montages to father-daughter football matches. A partnership with TikTok Thailand led to the creation of a dedicated landing page for #อยู่บ้านเพื่อเธอ, which accumulated 46 million views in less than a month. Eight Thai celebrities— including supermodel, actor, TV host, and activist Cindy Sirinya Bishop, Singer Songwriter - Singto Numchok, and —have contributed as well. In total, over 150 people have embraced the challenge by creating their own unique #HeForSheAtHome photos and videos.

For actor and comedian Ple Nakorn, the lockdowns necessitated by COVID-19 have given him the opportunity to model for his children the compassion that comes with an equitable household—with some lighthearted pranks along the way.

“Family comes first. It’s all about creating a loving, caring and sharing environment for the children,” Nakorn said. “Spending a lot of time at home during these past few months has made it possible for me to do even more around the house and take the load off my wife’s shoulders.”

Although women disproportionately carry a heavier burden of responsibility for domestic work and unpaid care in the best of times, the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified this stark inequality. A UN Women assessment on COVID-19’s impact revealed that in Thailand, 26% of young women reported an increase in unpaid adult care, while 41% of young women reported increases in unpaid childcare—with both rates exceeding those faced by young men. For many women, mandatory orders to shelter at home have left them trapped with an abusive partner or family member. Whether it’s the fear of domestic violence or the exhaustion of domestic labor, COVID-19 has exacerbated the inequalities experienced by women in myriad ways.

But in the fight for gender equity in the home, the success of the #HeforSheAtHome campaign points to signs of hope—as does the data. The same UN Women assessment found that of the thousands of women surveyed in eight countries across the Asia-Pacific region, over half shared that with COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, their partners help more with household work. In Thailand, men and boys are proving that they play an essential—and equal—role in this fight.

“Individual family roles are changing and it's more about doing what you can to work together and help one another,” Cindy Bishop and her husband, Byron, said. “That’s what a good partnership means.”

Take the #HeforSheAtHome challenge: To join the movement of men and boys ensuring equality in their homes, take a photo or video of yourself doing housework and post it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok. Use the hashtag #HeForSheAtHome and tag @unwomenasia. Creativity, music, and fun all encouraged!