While Southeast Asia has seen considerable progress towards gender equality in recent years, inequalities and critical gender gaps continue to exist in certain parts of the region. These have impeded women and girls’ abilities to fully realise their potential, especially in education and the workforce. Our recent foray into Thailand to empower vulnerable females is a first step toward improving livelihoods and opportunities for underserved communities in the Indochina region.
In April, we launched the “Community Capacity Building, Women Empowerment and Livelihood Education Development for Vulnerable Female Youth and Young Adults” initiative, a three-year programme combining the power of education and sports to drive social change in the pursued communities.
RYTHM is implementing the project in the kingdom’s east in Chonburi Province with its long-standing partner, ASA Foundation (ASA), which focuses on youth education and empowerment through sustainable social interventions.
Also read: Joint Initiative Launched to Educate and Empower Females in Rural Thailand
Earlier this month, ASA conducted the first of five planned activities for the project with a Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop. As a result, 20 pioneer facilitators are now equipped with the skills and knowledge to implement the project.
Talented female trainers identified from the ToT may be recruited, receive additional training, and be employed as ASA expert trainers for future Thailand projects, creating employment opportunities within the programme.
The Head of RYTHM, Santhi Periasamy, and Lee Hawkins, ASA’s Founder and Technical Advisor, launched the workshop in the coastal city of Pattaya.
Santhi said, “The opportunity for RYTHM Foundation to start making life-changing impacts for Thailand’s at-risk girls and women has gotten off to an expeditious start, and we could not be happier.
“We have been eager to work in Thailand for a long time but were delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. This project is to empower the young like you, and you can be proud that you are now part of a bigger initiative empowering girls and women worldwide,” she told the trainees.
Santhi lauded Lee and ASA’s effectiveness in getting the project off the ground in Thailand just months after its launch. “We are confident that the project will be as impactful and effective as our previous one with ASA in Indonesia.”
The expansion into Thailand is an exciting development for the Foundation. RYTHM Chairperson Datin Sri Umayal Eswaran says, “We would like to see girls in Southeast Asia be the voice, the change, and the leaders to which all other girls can aspire.”
In the video below, Datin Sri Umayal shares how the venture is a first step toward improving the livelihood of and opportunities for the region’s underserved communities:
In the Footsteps of an Award-winning Partnership
The project’s carefully curated framework will initially train 60 women as facilitators, including single mothers and women from low-income families aged between 21 and 35. As a result, the foundations expect the effort to affect positive change for 10,000 disadvantaged women and girls.
The project will promote a community-driven livelihoods intervention programme that trains the beneficiaries in areas such as entrepreneurship, financial literacy, decision-making, and leadership.
Beneficiaries will also receive capacity-building training to develop sustainable solutions to issues affecting their physical, social, economic, and cultural conditions. It will also emphasise the community’s safety, health, and well-being to protect them from diseases, disasters, and exploitation.
In addition, the programme aims to equip the beneficiaries with 21st-century life skills, including effective communication, interpersonal relationships, character building, empathy, critical thinking, creative thinking skills, and more for future workforce development.
The RYTHM-ASA alliance follows a similar award-winning collaboration in the Subang Regency in West Java, Indonesia, in 2019. The programme took home the gold in the Indonesian SDG Awards (ISDA) last year for efforts to improve the quality of education for vulnerable Indonesian youth and adults. The collaboration also promoted elements of inclusion, empowerment, and education development for 30 female teachers and over 5,000 youth of all abilities.
Also read: RYTHM and ASA Foundation Collaboration Takes the Gold at the 2021 ISDA Awards