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This Democratic Participation Research series aims to understand democracy in Southeast Asia through studying the independent gender rights organisations in Southeast Asia. The research will focus on the following countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

Southeast Asia is now facing a variety of political crises ranging from the rise of authoritarian regimes to chauvinistic nationalism movements that suppressed the organising for the emancipatory politics for the oppressed in the region.

The research is an attempt to understand the complex Southeast Asian politics through the lens of feminist interventions in the contemporary world. Modernity and modernisation of Southeast Asia has opened new possibilities as well as the backlashes for Southeast Asian countries which are still recovering from imperialism and neo-colonialism through global capitalist economy and extractivism.

By studying the existing and potential feminist interventions in Southeast Asia, we believe it will help us understand how we can strengthen the democratic movements—which are not limited to race, gender and class—to imagine a radical emancipatory politics for the Southeast Asia region. 

Keywords: Feminism, Gender rights, Democracy, Democratic participation, Patriarchy

Join the conversation on feminism as an integral part of the fight for democracy in our upcoming /ba.ca/ with New Naratif: Feminism as a Tool for Democracy in Southeast Asia. You can’t have democracy without women’s rights and SOGIESC equality.


A New Feminist Narrative:
Towards More Inclusive Southeast Asian Democracies

Democratic Participation Research Publication 1

Publication Year 2023

Author Thet Wai, with help from Wai Liang Tham and Bonnibel Rambatan

Editors Dr. Thum Ping Tjin, Bonnibel Rambatan, Fadiyah Alaidrus, and New Naratif’s Research Department

Art Director Ellena Ekarahendy

Graphic Designer Putri Mayzara

Illustrator Raven

Funding The Democratic Participation Research Project is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, Grant No. 2022-0543.

Publisher New Naratif is a movement for democracy, freedom of information and freedom of expression in  Southeast Asia. We aim to make Southeast Asians proud of our region, our shared culture and our  shared history. We fight for the dignity and freedom of the Southeast Asian people by building a  community of people across the region to imagine and articulate a better Southeast Asia.

This research report, excluding its illustrations, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. To view a copy  of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/

All illustrations are property of their respective illustrators.

Please cite this report as Wai, Thet. 2023. “A New Feminist Narrative: Towards More Inclusive Southeast Asian Democracies.” Democratic Participation Research Series 1 Publication No. 1. New Naratif.

Thet Wai

Thet Wai is a Gender Rights Researcher at New Naratif. She has spent more than ten years working with marginalised communities in Myanmar for movement building, political organising, and feminist research.

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