Women in Thailand still bereft of political power
By Grant Peck
Women remain grossly underrepresented in Thailand’s politics and government
and a major shift in the country’s attitudes is required to address the
imbalance, according to a U.N. report released Wednesday.
The report, Women’s Right to a Political Voice in Thailand, noted that women
hold only 10 percent of the seats in the national parliament, one of the
Thai Cabinet’s 36 ministerial posts and one of the country’s 76 provincial
Though women hold fewer positions of power than men worldwide, they are
marginalized more than the average in Thailand, said the report by the U.N.
Development Program and the multinational non-government organization Women
for Democratic Development Foundation.
“Closing the gender gap in politics needs to be a top priority in all
countries, not just Thailand, and will produce better governments and better
policies for the benefit of all,” the UNDP’s Thailand representative Joana
Merlin-Scholtes was quoted as saying in a news release.
The report, issued ahead of Thailand’s general election on Sunday, said the
Thai government has failed to meet targets it set in 2004 to increase women
in parliament, local government bodies and top positions in the civil
Women are only 10 percent of the outgoing members of parliament, putting
Thailand in 113th place out of 185 countries around the world, the report
“This is worse than most countries in the East and Southeast Asia region,
with the exceptions of Cambodia, Malaysia and Japan,” it said.
The worldwide average for female representation in parliament is 15 percent
to 16 percent.
Female representation in Thailand’s local governments is also weak, with
women making up 0.3 percent of district officers, 12.6 percent of deputy
district officers, and 3.3 percent of village heads.
Only in the civil service do the figures improve, and even there, the more
senior the job, the less likely a woman is to hold it. Women make up more
than two-thirds of lower-level positions, but one quarter of senior posts.
Promoting women’s right to a political voice in Thailand “will require an
unprecedented mobilization of government, political parties, media,
education system, and advocacy groups,” said Dr. Juree Vichit-Vadakarn, lead
author of the report and an official at the Thai Ministry of Social
Development and Human Security.
The Thai government should set deadlines for boosting the number of women in
senior positions, government committees and independent bodies, and teach
civil servants about gender equality, the report says.
“Gender equality in politics cannot be achieved without a major shift in
attitudes of people in general, and in particular men,” Dr. Juree said.
TAT teaching welcoming skills
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has devised training courses to
stress the need to provide the many different requirements that
international tourists expect and even demand. This is part of the “Grand
Plan” to persuade Thai and foreign tourists to celebrate the 60 year
anniversary of His Majesty the King ascension to the throne.
The host and hostess training program in Chiang Mai was held on March 21st,
2006 at the Duang Tawan Hotel with more than 200 participants. Junnapong
Saranak, Director of Tourism Authority of Thailand Northern office Region 1,
reported that the selected 60 widely differing tourist attractions will
provide great interest and have many facilities. There will be attractions
with many interesting features such as royal projects, along with world
heritage sites, natural, historical, cultural, and agricultural tourist
attractions, and also a learning center with locally-made products.
This training program emphasized welcoming visitors, being a good host,
providing security, demonstrating good standards of hygiene, understanding
tourist behavior, and the psychology of providing a service. It was expected
that after completion of this course, the participants will transfer their
new-found knowledge to their colleagues in the service industry which will
continue the thrust of this program and spread a common servicing viewpoint.
Chiang Mai Art and Culture Festival
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in association with different
organizations of Chiang Mai is to hold the Chiang Mai Art and Culture
Festival which will take place from April 1 to 9, 2006 in Chiang Mai. It has
been an annual event since 1996.
This year’s festival is to be organized primarily to celebrate the 60 year
anniversary of HM the King ascending the throne and secondly, to conserve
local wisdom concerning art and culture of the 700 year old Lanna Kingdom
and to promote Chiang Mai tourism, especially in the fields of art and
Many activities are to be provided, including a display of photographs taken
by His Majesty King Bhumibol, a Lanna puppet show, Poi Sang Long or novice
ceremony of the Tai tribe, a Thai Lanna drum competition and a display of
art work from students of several universities. There will be musical
performances by leading jazz musicians and classical numbers played by a
full symphony orchestra; as well as demonstrations of Lanna local music
instruments. The entire activities are to be held at different places around
Muang, Chiang Mai over several days.
More information is available at TAT Northern Office Region 1 or by calling
053-28064, 053-248607 and 053-302500.