This week has been both a time for celebration and reflection, as Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) commemorated International Women’s Day in solidarity with women, men and children across the globe. Every year, AIPP, along with several other local civil society organisations who are working on the advancement of women’s rights and gender equality, organizes the annual march and rally in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
On March 8th, the AIPP Secretariat members gathered at 3 Kings Monument in Chiang Mai and along with 300 other members of civil society and the wider community, including women with HIV, sex workers, members of the LGBT community and migrant workers, marched through the city streets, chanting their calls for better working conditions and just wages. The march culminated in Suan Buak Hard Park with the ribbon cutting of the bathroom made accessible for Persons With Disabilities. Policewomen, representing the government sector joined the program where their representative delivered a speech in solidarity and support of the event. The Indigenous Women Network of Thailand (IWNT) also contributed to the programme with a video presentation of Social Space for Hmong Indigenous Women in Thailand. Tuesday’s event was wrapped up in what has become a local tradition– by dancing together to the One Billion Rising campaign dance.
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)’s International Women’s Day festival on 9th March at Thapei East, Chiang Mai to support women human rights defenders was a success with the conduct of film screenings and setting up of a flea market, auction and food and clothes stalls. Along with an information booth, the INA Indigenous Guesthouse which is managed by AIPP to support indigenous women’s livelihood, also participated in the event to promote indigenous food served at the guesthouse and handicrafts from various indigenous groups in the region.
Indeed, the Women’s Day events in Chiang Mai, and across the world, were done with an air of great solemnity. Just five days earlier, on March 3rd, indigenous woman activist, Berta Cáceres was assassinated in her home in Honduras for her work in addressing socio-economic inequality and human rights violations. Sadly, violence against women human rights defenders and land rights activists is being committed with impunity. This week, in light of International Women’s Day, AIPP released a statement on the alarming frequency of human rights defenders being murdered1. In 2015 in Asia alone, three women human rights defenders were reported murdered for their activism.
International Women’s Day has many small victories, true, however, lasting success remains out of reach for indigenous women. AIPP’s goal is to secure all indigenous and community land rights everywhere through the Global Call to Action on Indigenous and Community Land Rights. This goal, and the corresponding target by 2020 of doubling the global area of land legally recognized as owned or controlled by indigenous peoples and local communities, cannot be realized without the parallel recognition of indigenous women’s and local women’s vital roles in these societies, and the global society as a whole.
For more information on the Global Call to Action on Indigenous and Community Land Rights, please go to http://www.landrightsnow.org/en/home/