Spotlight on Women in NGO’s Event
In the run up to Christmas, a season that brings both great joy and intense stress, we thought it was an ideal time to stop and learn more about members of the Irish Women’s Group Bangkok. As part of an effort to encourage alternate dialogue and embrace new relationships, IWGB organised a panel discussion to celebrate women working in non-profits/NGOs.
Made up of 2 members and 2 guests, the panelists shared their stories about their work and careers, talked about their families, feminism, justice and philanthropy. There was a palpable energy of excitement and encouragement from all present.
Hosted by the our ever generous and gracious patron Mme. Kevin Ejon at her residence, the women mingled while drinks were poured and nibbles were enjoyed.
Sr. Louise Horgan – Good Shepherd Sisters
Sr. Louise, a gracious and kind Good Shepherd sister who runs the Fatima Centre, talked about her epic journey to Bangkok which started with a 30 day boat journey boat ride from France to Sri Lanka in 1952. After a few years in the former Ceylon, she was sent to Bangkok with 2 other sisters and £35. With no knowledge of the language, geography or the people, they taught French and English for 20THB an hour to help fund the mission. From there, the Good Shepherd sisters in Bangkok have grown to include a self-help sewing factory, a mother and baby home, a residential home for 62 at-risk teens, and classes for locals and refugees. The sisters also have projects in Nong Kai, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Pattaya. When asked how she can keep up with all the individuals and their needs, she exclaimed “Love has no limit“.
She had a beautiful selection of hand-made Christmas decorations and gifts for purchase from the women the centre teaches to sew. For more information, how to donate, or get involved visit Good Shepherd Bangkok
Niamh De Loughry – Right to Play Thailand
After a breather for the women to digest the full impact of Sr.Louise’s story; our own Niamh De Loughry of Right To Play Thailand Foundation told of her path to working with disadvantaged youth in migrant and border communities. Born in Dublin and a native gaeilgeoir, Niamh did two degrees in Teaching and Accountancy but it wasn’t until spending months volunteering in Myanmar that she discovered her passion for the region. She returned to Ireland to do a Master’s in Reconciliation after Violent Conflict and returned to Southeast Asia.
Working with Right to Play for the past 4 years, she is the only female Country Director for Right to Play in the Middle East, Asia, and Australia; and now focuses on the positive reinforcement and discipline that sports have within a community. She manages 60 staff and 70 field offices. With a husband, two kids and huge amounts of travel for work, Niamh insists she’s not a superwoman!
Dana Graber Ladek – IOM Thailand
IWGB guest Dana Graber Ladek gave insight into her work as the Chief of Mission for IOM Thailand. IOM, the UN migration agency, works with the private sector to assess their supply chains for labor exploitation and human trafficking and is reaching out to the Chambers in Bangkok to partner with their members.
IOM also focuses on supporting migrants in Thailand and the region. They provide medical and nutritional care to vulnerable migrants, asylum seekers and victims of trafficking; promote education for migrant children; and build governments’ capacities to better manage migration.
Dana started her career working in the Peace Corps and has been with IOM for 15 years, in Thailand for 1.5. Hailing from Colorado, Dana and her husband moved to Bangkok with their three children who were born in Jordan, Hungary and Costa Rica while she was on assignments.
Magali Lapouge – Thailand Institute of Justice
Wrapping up the session with a heartfelt account of her work forThailand Institute of Justice, Ms Magali Lapouge (Lili) shared how she has been researching on the relationship between women and the justice system in the ASEAN region. The Thailand Institute of Justice (Public Organisation) (TIJ) was established by the Royal Government of Thailand in 2011. This initiative, led by Her Royal Highness Princess Bajakitiyabha Mahidol, aims at improving the faith of female inmates in prison and promoting alternatives to custodial measures.
As a senior research and policy officer, Lili also looks at how women agents of change promote women’s rights in the region through the use of laws, research and advocacy. Lili presented briefly two researches that she participated in:Women’s Access to Justice: Perspectives from the ASEAN region (PDF) as well as Women as Justice Makers: Perspectives from Southeast Asia which will be launched in March next year. In the latter research, Lili explored the barriers and opportunities that women encounter along their career in the justice sector.
There was an open discussion about the challenges each panelist faces being a women in their position, how they keep a work life balance, and what their parents think they really do. It was an inspirational evening attended by brilliant women from various countries and backgrounds, a testament to the open nature of the community.
The Irish Women’s Group wants to thank all 4 speakers, and all the wonderful participants for coming together to inspire and inform each other. We have so much gratitude to Kevin and Ambassador Rogers for always supporting and often hosting our events!
Next in the Series
The Spotlight series will continue in February with Spotlight on Women Entrepreneurs. Vice-Chairwoman Emma Gregory will tell us about founding a jewelry factory in Thailand and how to spot fake gems!