By Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service (CNS)
The 2nd Asia Pacific Feminist Forum (2nd APFF 2014), organized by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) kick started in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It has brought together nearly 300 feminists from 30 countries of the five sub-regions of Asia and the Pacific as well as global allies. Activists, lawyers, academics and women human rights defenders working on the multiple struggles of women in this region have gathered to collectively share and strategize to shape movements, and to imagine different social, political and economic structures.
On the opening evening, the forum saw a conglomerate of spirited women determined to pursue our collective struggle for justice, rights and equality. There were land rights activists, migrant workers, Indigenous women, rural women leaders, democracy activists, labour movement leaders, women who have been in difficult situations and yet remained committed to their cause. Their diverse backgrounds notwithstanding, the main aim of the forum is to sharpen activism and strengthen our strategies to meet the multiple challenges that we face as feminists.
FEMINISTS SPEAK (As told to Citizen News Service – CNS):
Tin Tin Nyo, General Secretary Women’s League of Burma: This forum is very important as it brings together women from different parts of the Asia Pacific region to discuss about issues concerning women and their development. I believe that the work of us feminists will go across not only in this region but across the world and that every woman will become confidant enough to stand up on her own as a feminist for her rights.
Helen Hakena, Director, Leitana, Nehan women’s Development Agency (LNWDA), Papua New Guinea: We have been empowered through the years and we have to continue to work on the issues concerning women, for the future of our children, for the future of our young women and for their children.
Vernie Yocogan Diano, Executive Director of Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Centre: APFF brings together diverse groups of women’s organizations and movements of this region. The diversity of issues which women participants will bring to the forum, will define a clearer action plan to tackle human rights and other development issues faced by women.
Officially starting this 4 day event, Sanaiyya Faheen Ansari, Regional Counsellor at APWLD and Senior Deputy Director, Gender and Social Justice Unit, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), Bangladesh, called the Feminist Forum as an open space for women to share ideas and to get inspired by each other to strengthen and deepen the feminist movement.
In her welcome address, Kate Lappin, Regional Coordinator APWLD, appealed to the women to strengthen ‘our movement and solidarity’ by engaging meaningfully with the forum and enlivening and enriching it with their experiences. She said that while the impact of globalisation, fundamentalism, militarization and patriarchy ran as undercurrent theme of the meet, little could have one imagined that the forum will be held at a time when Thailand was under military rule.
The cheering gathering joined Kate in raising a mocktail toast to our sisterhood and solidarity-the anti-patriarchy punch.
Shobha Shukla is a writer and editor at Citizen News Service (CNS) and NewsBlaze