Women Human Rights Defenders

HaRDstories highlights the vital work of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) across the country.

It’s been over 20 years since the United Nations unanimously adopted the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Yet still today, human rights defenders (HRDs), and women HRDs in particular, face unique challenges when participating in the public space and standing up against injustices.

WHRDs in Thailand are often subjected to violence and discrimination due to their identities and unwavering dedication to defend rights, equality and justice.

According to the human rights NGO Protection International, between 2014 – 2019, over 225 community and rural-based Thai WHRDs have been the targets of judicial harassment due to their roles fighting for land rights and equal access to natural resources.

Often, the informal networks of WHRDs themselves provide a certain degree of protection and help raise awareness and draw attention to issues. 

They also help women gain recognition for their work and enable them to build solidarity with local and international movements.

It is essential to recognise that women in Thailand often form the backbone of the many struggles for social justice and the recognition of human rights. In many cases, without their brave participation, there would be no one to protect against rights violations, improve our society, build peace and strengthen democracy.

In collaboration with Protection International and the Heinrich Böll Foundation, HaRDstories is highlighting the work of WHRDs across Thailand through a series of in-depth profiles. The accompanying photographs are taken in environments relevant to their struggle, whether it is their community, home or place of work.