LINES OF THOUGHT ACROSS SOUTHEAST ASIA

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International Women's Day

International Women’s Day 2022: celebrating past progress, recognising future challenges

Southeast Asia Globe marks the annual call to thought and action for women’s empowerment with a compilation of prior articles about the ongoing effort to ‘Break the Bias’

Written By:
March 8, 2022
International Women’s Day 2022: celebrating past progress, recognising future challenges
Women's rights activists hold a protest to mark International Women's Day in Jakarta on 8 March 2021. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

In the fight for gender parity, there are a number of things that need to be broken: the glass ceiling, institutionalised professional discrimination, cultural stereotypes which sets girls at a disadvantage from early years by depriving them of equal access to education. 

The theme of International Women’s Day 2022 is ‘Break the Bias.’ 

Breaking things takes action, but also discussion. Conversations are needed to understand the foundations from which inequality has been moulded and the environments that have allowed it to solidify and set. Discussion means when we break things, we have a better idea of how to rebuild them in a different, more positive way. 

An estimated 2.4 women of working age globally still don’t receive equal economic opportunities as their male peers. Over their expected lifetimes, the gap between male and female pay is $172 trillion: nearly twice the world’s annual GDP.

There are worries the pandemic has hindered what fragile progress has been made in driving the conversation forward on gender parity. The World Economic Forum estimated in 2020 that about 135 years will be required for the world to achieve gender parity, a notable increase from the organisation’s pre-pandemic calculation of 99 years. 

Recognising and celebrating the achievements and accomplishments of women in Southeast Asia this International Women’s Day is our way of celebrating what progress we’ve made, but also recognising how far we still have to go.

Southeast Asia Globe has joined millions around the world in marking International Women’s Day, as well as Women’s History Month in March, with a roundup of some of our best work about the lives and accomplishments of women in Southeast Asia, as well as the valuable work to recognise and put an end to continuing inequality and mistreatment based on gender.

We hope you can find time to enjoy and possibly learn more from our articles.


Recognising Resilience

Members of women’s group Gabriela march towards the presidential palace during a protest on International Women’s Day in Manila on 8 March, 2021. Photo: Ted Aljibe/AFP

In March 2020, Southeast Asia Globe presented an innovative package of articles on the theme of ‘Recognising Resilience’ that focused on women’s strength, solidarity and empowerment. The topics included female artists, women in unions, changing traditional practices and a persecuted ethnic group.

A word on Recognising Resilience

Illustration by Anna McCready

This 2020 editorial by Samantha McCable and Julija Veljkovic, part of the ‘Recognising Resilience’ project, took readers through stories and images concerning women’s issues covered by the Globe in the previous 12 years.

Cambodia’s culture of victim-blaming can be ignored no longer

Cambodian women from Boeung Kak community march along a street in Phnom Penh on 8 March, 2012. Cambodia marked the 101st anniversary of the International Woman day. Photo: Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP

Chak Sopheap, the executive director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, wrote in 2020 about how her nation’s government made promises regarding women’s rights that did not line up with daily reality.

The hard fight to increase women’s political participation in Indonesia

Indonesian women cast their votes in local elections at a polling station in Banda Aceh on `15 February, 2017. Photo: Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP

Contributor Dian Maya Safitri wrote in 2021 about female participation in the political process of Indonesia, where women faced persistent obstacles stemming from patriarchal norms even as they cast more than 50 million ballots in the world’s third-largest democracy.

The life and legacy of Nguyễn Thị Định, Vietnam’s female war hero

An alter for Nguyễn Thị Định at her former home. Photo: Govi Snell

This 2021 historical article by Globe reporter Govi Snell traced the life and leadership of a woman who is still revered in Vietnam as one of the country’s great revolutionaries who helped attain victory over colonial French forces and the U.S. military.

The changing face of Cambodia leadership

Chak Sopheap, executive director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, at a rally. Photo: supplied

Women and young people are increasingly moving into leadership positions in Cambodia’s political and civil society organisations. Nasa Dip, a journalist with Globe’s Khmer-language sister publication, Focus: Ready for Tomorrow, spoke in 2021 with people who are stepping up to help steer Cambodia’s path forward.

Vietnam’s Hmong women finding empowerment through hemp

A Hmong woman works away at the freshly spun hemp, drawing patterns in beeswax. Photo: Ashley Lampard

A resurging interest in Vietnam’s traditional crafts in 2021 prompted Globe writer Ashley Lampard to write about the empowerment of women in isolated communities and new opportunities to transition to financially productive work beyond farming.

Under the world’s mirror

On the set of the Rise Up music video at a park in Phnom Penh. It was shot by UK-based production company Junction 15. Photo: Lesly Lotha

A 2019 Globe article by Thomas Brent and Kong Meta described the plight of women and girls with disabilities in Cambodia who had become especially vulnerable to intimidation, violence and sexual abuse. Relief and support organisations have worked to curb the problem, but the stories of some victims have tragic endings.

Investing in Cambodia’s women: Providing opportunities, not charity

Attendees at the SHE Conference 2020 on 6 March 2020. Photo: SHE Investments Facebook page

For International Women’s Day 2021, Globe contributor Celia Boyd wrote about charitable giving to benefit women. She noted there is a trend of portraying women and girls as victims to help raise donations, while there needs to be greater consideration about the narrative surrounding women receiving assistance.

The first Vietnamese in Antarctica: The path to conservation for Hong Hoang

In 1997, Hong became the first Vietnamese person to visit Antarctica. Photo: Supplied

Conservationist Hong Hoang blazed a trail for other Southeast Asian women when she became the first person from Vietnam to visit Antarctica. In 2021, Govi Snell shared the story of her environmental work and a journey to the southernmost part of the world.

The Anakut podcast: Women in the Kingdom

In the 2020 season of the Southeast Asia Globe podcast, Anakut, an October episode focused on women in Cambodia. The conversation with a leading human rights campaigner and a social media influencer focused on creating a more equitable and inclusive future for women living and working in the Kingdom.



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