In late October, the Rights for All (RFA) Women’s Exchange (WE) program—in collaboration with the Labour Rights for All (LRA) program—held a basic leadership skills training in Ranong, Thailand. The two-day training was attended by 20 migrant women who are currently living in southern Thailand, or in southern Myanmar near the Thai-Myanmar border. Leadership skills trainings are held by MAP staff twice a year—one in northern Thailand and one in the south. These trainings seek to foster leadership skills among women participating in their local WE groups, which are held in 11 communities around Thailand. MAP’s hope is that these trainings will provide WE participants with the skills they need to self-sufficiently mobilize, organize and support migrant women in their communities.
The basic leadership skills training covered the following topics: the origins of power in society, personal development, leadership skills, labor rights and strategy planning for the WE in 2017. MAP staff facilitated discussions around building self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-esteem, in addition to engaging women in activities aimed at identifying their personal management styles and leadership qualities. LRA program staff held a session to specifically address the services provided by the Migrant Assistance Centre—a program run jointly by the Thai Ministry of Labor and NGOs that assists and gives consultation to migrant workers in 10 provinces of Thailand. To keep the training lively and engaging for participants, MAP staff made time for group bonding activities, where women sang, danced and laughed in the company of one another.
In an effort to improve upon the WE program, MAP staff led the women through a SWAT analysis of their communities’ WE meetings over the past year. Women came together at the end of the training to identify areas for growth in the WE program, and how to best approach these areas in 2017. Out of these sessions, both the Ranong and Phang Nga WE groups determined they had developed the facilitation skills and capacity necessary to lead their community WE meetings autonomously in 2017. MAP staff will continue to provide the budget and other logistical support to the Ranong and Phang Nga WE meetings, but will step away from their role as organizers and facilitators at these communities’ WE meetings. This major change to next year’s WE program is a testament to these women’s leadership in action, and also to the great success of MAP’s skills training events.
The bi-annual basic leadership skills training provides WE women with personal and professional development, and creates a space for them to network regionally. Equally as important is the supportive environment this network fosters, where WE women can call on one another in a crisis and respond collectively. Many of these migrant women work in difficult conditions, such as in fisheries and canning factories, and some have experienced domestic and/or other forms of violence in their communities here in Thailand. The WE program provides a platform where these women can organize effectively against injustice, celebrate their resilience and resistance and continue to grow together as powerful women.
Participants and facilitators of the Basic Leadership Skills Training in southern Thailand.
Women participating in community building activities at the Basic Leadership Skills Training.
MAP staff facilitating a session on how to effectively plan and prepare for a WE meeting.
Training participants practicing their presentation and public speaking skills.