On Wednesday the 18th of March, Chiang Mai University’s department of Women’s Studies co-hosted an all-day seminar with the Australian Embassy addressing women’s political, economic, and social issues in ASEAN. Crossing Borders: Women’s Gender and Mobility in ASEAN covered an assortment of topics including discussions on the mobility of the Thai gay society and improving women’s mobility in ASEAN.
The Australian Embassy sent representatives to Chiang Mai University in order to open a dialogue on gender equality in ASEAN. The seminar was hosted exactly ten days after International Women’s day (March 8th), in honour of the holiday. This year marks the 20th anniversary of 189 countries coming together to sign the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action aimed at advancing women’s rights.
Ms. Sarah Roberts from the Australian delegation noted, “While the Beijing Declaration provides guidance and inspiration to many countries, there is still a long way to go.” Adding, “Women’s rights are human rights.”
Mia Urbano, Australian Government Social Development Specialist, spoke about Australia’s aid programs within the ASEAN region. Ms. Urbano presented findings from her research showing that in Mekong countries, women have lower education and skill levels, but have higher labour participation. “The least progress is in women’s economic opportunities,” she said while explaining that progress needs to be made in Women’s economic access, pay, safety, and security.
Ms. Urbano complimented the event noting it was the first gender studies seminar she attended that that brought both women’s and LGBT+ organizations together. Noting “we are good at fighting for women and less at diversity.”
The stated goals of the seminar were to review the state of knowledge and women’s LGBT movement, open an academic exchange forum on women and LGBT studies, and to mobilise and call for a change in women’s rights and gender equality.
The Department of Women’s Studies announced it would be hosting an event in two months focusing on women’s participation in drafting the new constitution. Be on the lookout for more details.