Eight women honored by Thai Human Rights Commission

Thailand’s Human Rights Commission presented awards on International Women’s Day last week to eight Thai women who have worked to champion women’s rights and other rights, including those who fought for hilltribe women, transgender women and to protect the environment.

“Women are like the colors of the spectrum; there are so many kinds of women and transgender women are one of them,” said Jetsada Taesombat, executive director of the Foundation of Transgender Alliance for Human Rights, and one of the eight women honored.

“I am so happy they chose us. Over the years the group has worked hard in helping women and transgenders in Thai society to have a better quality of life,” said Jetsada, who is a transgender woman.

Commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and chairwoman of its Women’s Rights Subcommittee said all the awardees have achieved great things for their communities.

Several Thai technology corporations also joined with United Nations Women and Thai celebrities to sponsor a fair called “HeForShe Arts” celebrating Thai women’s accomplishments and gender equality on International Women’s Day in Bangkok.

Women are equal to men under Thailand’s constitution and laws. The Kingdom has one of the highest percentages in the world of women working as business executives. Thai women were granted the right to vote in 1932, among the earliest in Asia. The percentages indicate that Thai women have made major in advances in some areas, but are still lagging behind in others.

Aside from Jetsada, the other awardees were Bhikkuni Dhammanantha, who teaches women to practice the Buddhist principles of dhamma; the Khon Rak Muang Thepa Network, a women’s group in Songkhla province; the Rak Ban Haeng group in Lampang province and Phana Charoensuk, who protects women from violence and sexual abuse.

Those honored also included the Foundation of Transgender Alliance for Human Rights; Kamita Leeja, who campaigns for land rights for hilltribe people in the North; Natthaporn Art-harn, a civil and political rights defender from the Northeast and the Protect Andaman from Coal Network in Krabi province.

All pledged to continue fighting for their causes and for women’s rights.

“Women in Thailand are fortunate that they have been able to rise in society. Although it has taken a long time, they are finally being able to have the rights and access to the same opportunities that men do. Thailand has shown that the country is ready for this change,” wrote Prof. Liza Romanow in a paper entitled The Women of Thailand, published by American University in 2012.

Photo courtesy of National Human Rights Commission of Thailand