Denouncing sexual violence, demanding abortion reform and destigmatising sex work — once-taboo issues are finding public expression in Thailand as women take up leadership roles in a youth-led pro-democracy movement. On the protest frontlines, they are urging for gender equality in a kingdom where workplaces and politics are still dominated by men. AFP met three of them. Chief negotiator On the night police tried to stop protesters from marching to the Thai parliament, activist Chonticha Jangrew remembers rallying them to push past the barricades. “We cut the barbed wire, we approach the parliament as close as we can. We won’t back down,” she recounts herself saying during the November rally. Moments later, police fired tear gas and water cannon at the marchers — a turning point for a movement that has brought thousands onto the streets since July. Chonticha, 27, is a familiar face at demonstrations and is often the only one trusted to negotiate with police, but her visibility has also led to a spate of criminal charges — including sedition. She said she received death threats and “sexual insults” from ultra-royalists who oppose the protest movement but insisted the struggle must continue. “We must do as much as men if we want equality,” she said. Like the majority of protesters, she is demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha, reform to the monarchy and a rewriting of the military-scripted constitution. She is also fighting for better representation of women in politics — so far, they make up only 14 percent of lawmakers in parliament and 10 percent of the cabinet. Chonticha was raised by a military father in a conservative environment. “I needed to emancipate myself. Today, I don’t hide my opinions from my family. They accept them, but they are afraid for me,” she said.