Fellow Since 2002
International Labor Organization
This profile was prepared when Rakawin Leechanavanichpan was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
An experienced labor advocate in Thailand, Rakawin is drawing attention and channeling resources to the needs of workers in the growing, yet overlooked, informal sector. Because these primarily female workers are considered self-employed, they lack access to the welfare and social protection benefits, bargaining power, and health and safety protections available to workers in more formal jobs. Rakawin's strategy responds to the specific needs of homeworkers, who cannot be reached, and whose needs cannot be addressed, by traditional labor organizing methods. With her staff at the Bangkok-based HomeNet Thailand, Rakawin works directly with community-based organizations of homeworkers through networking, education, and capacity training to improve their collective strength and immediate welfare. Additionally, HomeNet Thailand partners with government agencies, national and international civil society organizations, trade unions, and selected employers to increase the visibility of these homeworkers in national policy. By building an effective coalition at the grassroots, national, and international levels, Rakawin is securing greater voice, recognition, representation, and rights for Thailand's millions of home-based workers.