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MAIL OPINION  By Shana Kongmun


International Women’s Day in Thailand

International Women’s Day was held in Thailand and around the world on Friday, March 8. This day has been held on one day or another since the turn of the 20th century. First in 1909 National Women’s Day was held in the United States on February 28, 1909. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913. The initiative was launched after more than 15,000 women marched the streets of New York City calling for the right to vote, shorter working hours and better pay. An International Conference of Working Women was held in Denmark in 1911 where women from European countries called for an International Women’s Day, which was held for the first time the in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on March 19, 2011. More than one million women and men attended rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. In 1913 the date was moved to March 8 and in 1917 a strike by Russian women opposing the war took place on the Gregorian calendar day of March 8 and ended in the abdication of the Czar.
International Women’s Day is a public holiday in many countries, including neighbors Cambodia, Vietnam and Nepal. The day is celebrated by women around the world as many women continue their struggle for human rights and equality.
Thailand is lauded for the number of women CEO positions, in fact, forty-nine percent of CEOs in Thailand are women, the highest proportion in the world. It also ranks pretty well on senior management positions with 36 percent of women in those roles compared to a global low of 7 percent in Japan and 19 percent in the U.K. and 20 percent in the U.S.; this according to a recent survey by Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR).
However, violence against women continues to rise and it was reported last year that 3 acts of violence against women or children are reported every hour in Bangkok, often by their partner or a family member. Laws were put in place over 5 years ago to protect women and children against domestic abuse and yet the numbers continue to rise.
Additionally, although discrimination against women is illegal in Thailand women still face it in the work place, how many ads have you seen asking for an attractive male reception between the age of 23-29 have you ever seen in the newspaper? And although the Constitution gives women equal rights, the man is still the legal of the family.
Add in cultural values which see women as the “hind legs of the elephant” and Thailand still has a way to go. Not that my home country is any better, in fact the U.S. ranks far below Thailand for women in senior management and although police still don’t like getting involved in a domestic dispute they do, women do seem to have more recourse to the law. Thai police need to learn to rethink their positions on crimes against women, from the idea that they should not intervene when a man is beating his wife, to the concept that a woman who is raped somehow provoked it. But, incrementally, I think attitudes in this country are changing as can be seen by the outrage provoked nationwide of the video of the man striking two women because they would not back up their car for him to get past. The tragedy of this video is, of course, that this was witnessed and nobody stepped in to stop the violence.

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International Women’s Day in Thailand