Supporting women human rights defenders

Organizations: Buku and Backyard Politics

Priority Area: Leadership, voice-agency, and women’s political participation

Country: Thailand

Two community-based groups in Thailand are collectively working on issues of mental health and security for women human rights defenders (WHRDs), and strengthening intersectional social justice activism. It is a unique programme which has a key component of self-care for WHRDs. Since the programme is also led by LBT activists, the strategy and its anticipated outcomes present important learning opportunities for other organisations across the region.

The program, jointly run by Buku and Backyard Politics, focuses on 3 key strategies:

  • Offering mental health support through communal self-care practices, such as football, music/art therapy, nature retreats, organic farming, and yoga, which are accessible and affordable for WHRDs. It focuses on equipping WHRDs with the tools, techniques and communities to develop self care and provide mental support.

  • Providing gender training for frontline defenders who need strengthening of their gender and power analyses and feminist concepts.

  • Offering cross issue learning and solidarity building with other human rights movements to strengthen intersectional social justice activism.

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Working on the frontlines of human rights activism, women feel pressure in their personal and work lives, impacting their mental well-being and their sustainability in the movement. Through participation in a support initiative, women activists have reported a positive effect on their mental well-being.
— Buku and Backyard Politics