"I am now confident when talking with government counterparts and facilitating village development plans, something I did not know how to do before," says Miyada Phengpanya, a 22-year-old from Phonesavang village in Meung district in Bokeo province.
Miyada belongs to the Aka ethnic minority group. In the past, women in her village never led meetings or participated in community development projects.
She says women faced other challenges too. For instance, when she worked on a rubber tree plantation with a group of workers doing the same job, women were paid less – a common phenomenon in this area, an accepted norm.
While Miyada only completed high school, she was a volunteer with a partner organization before joining the Capacity Development for Citizen-Led Inclusive Development Project and was a natural fit to become a development facilitator.
In June 2016, Miyada joined the Capacity Development for Citizen-Led Inclusive Development Project where she was trained.
Miyada learned how to identify the needs a community requires by conducting a community needs assessments and identifying potential opportunities and challenges that will affect development work in the village. Miyada also learned about gender equality and how to facilitate village development plan processes.
"I realized that there is unequal pay and unequal treatment for ethnic women. There were limitations imposed on ethnic people preventing them from fulfilling their full potential," Miyada says.
Through the process, Miyada was able to assist community members develop village micro-grant in eight locations. Ethnic minority group members managed most of the grants that were set up with the aim of improving meaningful participation of women in community development and enhancing the quality of women’s lives.
Currently, Miyada is the lead female facilitator in the village. She has also helped create a chance for the participation of women in the fight for gender equality by introducing the Gender Action Learning System to ethnic minority women groups by teaching them about their rights.