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The past few months were filled with news of legal victories and social celebrations in the LGBTQ community, as gay pride events around the world were celebrated. “Leaping with joy like a bird” is how Chi Chia-wei, the leading Taiwanese gay rights activist, described himself when that country’s top court ruled in his favor, paving the way toward legalized same-sex marriage. Pride season is indeed a time for self-affirmation, community building, and joyous celebration of sexual and gender diversity, as well as solidarity for LGBTQ dignity and equality from family, friends, and other allies.
But there remains a dark side that needs countering all year long. We still live in a world where governments get away with fuelling hatred and discrimination to curry favor and mobilize political support from conservative factions, as in Indonesia where anti-LGBT sentiment is on the rise, abuse goes unpunished, and LGBTQ communities are unprotected.
When I think about solutions, one ray of hope for me is young people! Asia Catalyst is thrilled to count several wonderful young people as staff members, and this month, we highlight (below) the newest addition to our team, Ms. Petlada Ouratanakawee of Thailand. It is the passion and motivation to see human rights and justice realized that she embodies, which gives me confidence that we can ultimately heal the world (or at least be inspired while trying).
In April 2017, Petlada “Pupae” Ouratanakawee joined Asia Catalyst as Administrative Assistant in the Bangkok office. Below, she shares her thoughts on her new role.
by Petlada Ouratanakawee
I grew up in Thailand where class discrimination is an overt and ongoing issue; where a large proportion of people are excluded from programs or policies that affect their lives.
I regularly experienced having to wait for more than three hours before I was able to see a doctor, due to the high patient load in decent public hospitals. People from rural areas are forced to travel to another city with all the money they have, just to get good treatment in Bangkok, which reflects the shortage of qualified rural health care providers. This is a structural problem, the failed decentralization of healthcare.
As a recent university graduate, I wanted to work in area where I could address these inequalities and support social movements, I wanted to contribute rather than just read about those issues. Three months ago, I was fortunate enough to join Asia Catalyst, an organization that addresses discrimination and inequality through grassroots empowerment, as Administrative Assistant. I am entrusted with the responsibilities of ensuring systems are in place and supporting effective implementation of our activities so that they can be delivered on time, even if that means juggling multiple vendors to organize supplies, accommodation, and transportation for an upcoming workshop.
The administrative role often might, at first glance, be seen as just a small contribution to organization’s “big picture” work, because it doesn’t involve much with direct implementation of programming such as, training, advocacy and other areas important for human rights advancement. In reality, I experienced that everyone is an essential part of that bigger picture. I and my colleagues contribute to Asia Catalyst in different but equally important ways, to the ultimate change that Asia Catalyst seeks in the world. The smooth running of an organization’s admin system is critical for the effective implementation of its program work. All in all, we are working together to reach our common goals.
I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to meaningfully participate in the organization’s work beyond administration. Since joining Asia Catalyst, I have been involved in organizing a consultation on corruption, with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health. I also attended an event in Bangkok, “IDAHOT 2017 – International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia,” along with Asia Catalyst staff to show support for Thai lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organizations. It was such a great opportunity to be involved and acquire knowledge from various people’s perspectives.
It has been motivating to see my efforts come to fruition and to connect with local and regional movements as part of my new role. I’m very much looking forward to contributing further to Asia Catalyst’s work and the work of our partners.