GWS Thailand, the Community Women Human Rights Defenders Collective in Thailand, is comprised of grassroots women currently representing nineteen different sectors who are defending family, community and the environment.  These sectors include indigenous women, migrant and refugee women, disabled women,  urban women from the slums, rural women farmers and women from the conflict zone in the Deep South. Sex workers, garment workers, and those fighting against destruction of natural resources and the environment. They work to protect life, livelihoods and the natural world. The Collective demands a Care Income, and an end to poverty, inequality and State oppression in all forms.

GWS UK visit Thailand, 2023

In November 2023, Lisa and Sara from GWS UK were invited to Thailand by Bee (Pranom Somwong of Protection International) for a two-day gathering of the Community Women Human Rights Defenders Collective which campaigns for a care income. The event was followed by a national tour to meet women organisers in their communities. It was a fantastic
learning experience which brought our international Global Women’s Strike network closer together.

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Bangkok: we were thrilled to meet with grassroots women campaigning in their communities across Thailand. Their human rights defenders collective includes organisations of slum dwellers; farmers/land defenders; anti-mining/mega dam communities protecting ancient mountains and natural wetlands; former factory workers demanding decent welfare benefits; women with disabilities; indigenous communities; migrants and refugees; sex workers; the Assembly of the Poor; street vendors; and lawyers who represent communities under threat. Read media report of a Lahu family who won compensation after their son was killed by the Thai military in Hardstories.

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Before leaving Bangkok, we were invited to speak at a press conference at a prestigious Cultural Museum in the city centre. Speakers included well-known women human rights defenders, such as Angkhana Neelapaijit, who is now a member of The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID). Politicians were asked to comment on the demand for a care income to be included in Thailand’s constitution. It was live-streamed to 2 million followers.

Read more here.

We met with women’s groups from four farming communities which make up the Southern Peasants Federation of Thailand. They have waged a courageous battle for land rights after reclaiming and farming land polluted by palm oil plantations. The community spent years regenerating the soil to grow organic vegetables and herbs and keep livestock. We had an all-day workshop on their history and on the care income. We showed a power point, translated into Thai, on the Women's Self-Help Groups which spearhead the community managed natural farming in Andhra Pradesh, India. Everyone was very keen to learn more and have a relationship with the women in Andhra Pradesh.

The communities grow a wide variety of vegetables and herbs, including medicinal. We were delighted and nourished by their delicious food. We met their cow, ducks, chicken and a noisy turkey which chased us down the road!

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In Chiang Mai, we met with sisters at Empower, the sex worker organisation that first introduced GWS to Thailand. It was wonderful to reconnect and be taken for a tour of their women’s centre which includes a classroom, a museum and a bar below it. We remembered our dear sister Liz who passed away suddenly in 2023 and is sorely missed by all of us.

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Dong Mafai in the North East. We joined a community resisting mining and theft of stone from their spiritual mountains. Six villages came together and built a camp in the road to physically obstruct vehicles from reaching the mining site. Families take turns holding down the road blockade. For years they’ve fought off threats of violence and evictions, until the court finally revoked the mining company’s permit. Read more here.

They are now demanding restoration, and raising resources to set up eco-tourism which would enable them to protect their precious historic sites and welcome the public. Attractions include a cave with 3,000 year old paintings.

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Uncle Piak, one of the organic farmers, gave us a tour of the area. He proudly showed us his beautiful farm, pond and vegetable plots. We also saw villages, caves, farms, orchards, a temple with ancient artefacts, and the grave of a local official assassinated for supporting villagers in their struggles against the mining company. We stood atop of a massive pile of stones the mining company had left after rock bombing local mountains, which the villagers had reclaimed.

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An all-day community meeting in Kham Pa Lai forest of about 100 people in the North region. It is a stunningly beautiful lush thick forest and wetland, bordering Laos. The Kham Pa Lai Spring Conservation Group fight against mining, land grabbing by the government, and wind farm projects by private companies in the name of clean energy. The meeting was held in this Buddhist Temple carved into the rock. We felt very honoured to be part of their planning day for upcoming protests and meetings to press for their demands.


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