My name is Pu Sor and I come from Baan Thiyaper village in Mae Hong Son Province, Thailand.
As a young woman I was discouraged by many people around me, including my family.
I wanted to get an education and a career, but this was very difficult for me because of gender and also because I am Karen and was discriminated against on ethnic grounds.
In my community, girls and women have less opportunities to get educated and participate in the decision making process.
When I was a child, I have heard people in the community or our parents always say that we as women are not leaders. Also, we have always emphasized that women should get married and have children and take care of their families.
The roles of men and women in my Karen community are clearly divided – women should be the main parent, take care of their family, make textiles, clean the house and cook, while men work outside the home, for example farming and gardening. Even so, women often work outside the home too! Karen women are expected to be patient and gentle with their family and undertake all they can for their family home.
By contrast, men are not pressured to marry, stay at home or take care of their parents. A woman who wants to leave to go work in the city faces difficult questions from her family and if she does leave she is expected to send all of her money to her family and to return as quickly as possible to marry.
Now, I am the only female university graduate from my community and I feel so sad
for my sisters and other young women who cannot get an education. Luckily, I got support for my tuition fees since I was in high school until university from Sangsan Anakod Yawachon which is working based in Maehongson and Tak province.
These are the reasons why I really want to do something for my community in terms of women’s leadership; I want to change this situation, but I didn’t know where to start or what kind of things I should do. This question stayed in my mind until I met Weaving Bonds staff and participated in their workshop last year in 2015. In the workshop, I gained a lot of valuable knowledge from different teachers and local community leaders. This workshop has encouraged and supported me to go further and make my dream more possible.
After attending the Weaving Bonds workshop, I became confident enough to get involved in women’s leadership issues and start to make change in my community.
Pu Sor’s Story, Updated:
After joining last year’s Weaving Bonds workshop, Pu Sor spent three months as an intern in Chiang Mai, building her skills and knowledge and supporting a research project on gender in Thailand and China.
She also received a small grant from Weaving Bonds to organize a project in her hometown in Mae Hong Son Province, Thailand along the Salween River on the Thai-Myanmar border.
For her project, she worked with women and children from her community to learn about community history and produced a community map in order to build local women’s confidence and understanding of their local history and wisdom on natural resources management.
Now, Pu Sor is pursuing her dream by leading a women’s empowerment program for Karen women in Mae Hong Son, Thailand with the organization Development Center for Children and Community Network.