Young women activists Charmila Thushari of Sri Lanka and Hoeurng Phork of Cambodia live 1700 miles apart, yet they discovered they shared the same struggle. Both were fighting for women’s labor rights in factories back home.
They connected through the Activist School for Feminist Development Communication, a five-day program funded by the Global Fund for Women and organized by grantee partner, ISIS International, in Manila, Philippines.
“In Cambodia it is very difficult to speak out and criticize the government’s labor law; it means taking risks,” said Phork. “At ISIS I built a local and international support network.”
This network includes Thushari and Phork, who work for Global Fund grantee partners Dabindu Collective and Cambodian Women’s Movement Organization, respectively. With a Global Fund grant, these activists, along with ten other young women under 40, shared ways they use media technology, like radio and Twitter, to organize their communities.
Delegates came from across Asia to exchange lessons about competing in the male- dominated world of journalism and communications. Participants also produced videos to help mobilize women in their communities.
“I traveled to a strange place, met lovely people, and learned meaningful things,” said Ou Xiaoo, a participant from Yunnan, China.
The strong relationships built at the Activist School are an important step in transforming the way young women think about the feminist movement across the region and the world. To this day, Phork and Thushari remain connected through an online forum.
“We entered the Activist School as strangers and at the end we became members of one united family,” said Thushari.
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