On International Women’s Day, 8 March, 2005, Pornpit Puckmai, a Thai sex worker activist and the manager of EMPOWER Foundation’s Chiang Mai office, was awarded with the first annual human rights award by the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand. Pornpit received the award for her activism in defending the rights of women.
From the 36 people nominated for the award, judges finalised their decision using an analysis of the history of the advocacy and activism undertaken by the contenders. The judges unanimously agreed that the activism undertaken by Pornpit in defending and promoting the rights of sex workers was most deserving of the prestigious award. Pornpit was presented with the award during a high profile ceremony in Bangkok.
Of the award, Pornpit said:
“I want this award to be an inspiration to all of us sex workers fighting for our rights. I want to say to you that if you are a sex worker and you’re thinking about whether to join the fight for sex worker rights then … do it! I thought that our fight would take 150 years or more but now I’m not so sure we will have to wait that long. It is a huge step that the National Human Rights Commission here in Thailand has given its inaugural award to me, a sex worker who works for the rights of sex workers. This is recognition for all sex workers that we have rights and that we are more than capable of defending our rights. This is not just my award. This is our award. The Power We Have: The Power We Share!”