Promoting gender equality to address gender-based violence with Kullanit (TK)
We had a conversation with Kullanit (TK) about how promoting gender equality is a key component in addressing gender-based violence.
Ruam Chuay’s interview series, Sparking Conversations, shines a spotlight on advocates and changemakers in our community who to work to create a safer world. We hope to inspire and share ways you can make a difference in your community.
We’re happy to bring you this interview with TK! While she works as a communication officer at a US government-funded program in fisheries management, she is also passionate about gender equality and preventing gender-based violence. As you’ll read in her interview, in any line of work or setting, each of us has an opportunity to contribute to challenging inequality.
Recently, TK took a course through the UNFPA about using data to strengthen our ability to measure the prevalence of gender-based violence. Collecting data about gender-based, and particularly sexual violence is one of the most challenging aspects of understanding how widespread the issue is. Though, the data we do have access to is staggering. Having previously worked in government, TK hopes to be able to bring this knowledge to her work in the future and promote change in Thailand.
Here’s her story!
Introduce yourself! Tell us a little bit about your background and work.
I am a communication officer at a US government-funded program in fisheries management. I am particularly interested in the human welfare aspect of the program.
I also graduated with master’s degrees in global communication in the UK and US and would like to use my skills and creativity in promoting a social cause. I am very passionate about art and music and hoping to perhaps use them to give voice to people, especially young people.
I recently took the Gender-Based Violence Prevalence data course (kNOwVAW) organized by the UNFPA in September. The course was designed to convene gender specialists, government agencies, researchers, and statisticians to work together in collecting accurate and representative data to highlight the issues of violence against women (VaW) in their countries. The course helped me to better understand the complexity of the issue and the different cultural contexts and root causes of VaW.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned is that prevention is the most important approach and it can be done through promoting gender equality. For example, through community engagement, support groups and raising public awareness among others.
What motivated you to take the course?
Gender issues have always been important to me since high school. I have always wanted to join an organization or working to contribute to promoting gender equality and rights. Since I have a background in communication, I would like to do so through the use of online platforms and creative content.
I took the kNOwVAW course due to my personal interest in national and global gender issues. I would like to also work in this area in the future, especially with an international organization. Gender issues are very close to my heart as a woman and a citizen of a developing nation like Thailand where gender equality is a challenge (for example, where we have high rates of gender violence and human trafficking of women). I hope to highlight the importance of gender violence to the Thai government as Thailand has not yet had a national survey on this topic although it has become more and more prevalent.
Were there any challenges you faced while addressing social issues in your line of work?
I used to work in an automotive industry which is definitely a male-dominated. It is quite a decent company that promotes rights and diversity at work so I have not personally faced any challenge yet.
However, it can be difficult to raise issues upon certain behaviors or gestures of men towards women that ‘some’ may categorize as sexual harassment especially in colloquial or informal conversations and particularly when they are considered as microaggression or minimal e.g. calling out names etc..
What is one thing that you think is important for people to recognize when it comes to interpersonal and gender-based violence?
Providing a safe space to speak about gender-based violence issues is how we can build awareness about the issue. There are many reasons why some women in Thai society cannot really speak about their experiences: cultural norms, embarrassment, not sure if their experience is considered ‘sexual violence’ and sometimes they think that people around them won’t take it seriously enough. There are social media pages that allow women to speak about their experiences with their ‘own voices’ but there aren’t so many at all.
To also add to this question, what people need to be aware of in terms of interpersonal/gender-based violence is the issue of ‘consent’. They need to understand that no one deserves such violence without consent. There should be no excuses like she is too drunk or she deserves it because of who she is etc.. As a wider society, we should not at all joke about these violence issues or take them for granted. We need to raise awareness and move toward effective solutions.
What is one thing you think people can do to have healthier relationships?
Listen to each other and give each other’s voice. I believe that healthy relationships come with a good balance of power, so no one can exert or abuse their power over another.
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