Who run the world? –
As much as UN women, APWW , Shan women’s action network, women empowered and all the other non-governmental organizations try, women are still not equal compared to men. You might think this happens only in underdeveloped countries or in remote tribes . But no, this problem is a worldwide problem. In no country all over the world exists a 100% gender equality. Just because some were born in this world as a girl. They cannot be totally equal anywhere in this universe. However, the world is and has been trying. But it takes a lot of time to change a view of individuals, populations and governments.
One of the countries that is trying to change its view and policies on gender equation is Thailand. It is very interesting to google something about Thai women. At first there are tons of websites how western men can find a Thai girlfriend. And there are a lot of articles about prostitution. This particular fact already says something about the women’s role in Thailand..
But this is a very well arguable topic since Thailand is definitely trying and has already changed a lot regarding the development women’s’ rights.
Gender equality index
Thailand ranks 60 on the Gender equality index: this is a to measure the gender equality of all countries. This is measured by different factors (economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, political environment). 145 countries are measured according to these factors. The countries gain a score between 1 and 0. Where 0 is total inequality and 1 is total equality. To give you an indication: #1 is Iceland with a general score of 0.881. #145 is Yemen with a general score of 0.484. So Thailand is doing quite ok being ranked #60 with a score of #0.706.
The improvement points of the gender equality index are in line with those of the UN women. According to UN women the areas of serious improvement are of lack of sex disaggregated data, stereotypes about violence against women, traditional attitudes, low participants in politics and decision-making positions, discriminations and of course women in the informal sector, HIV prevalence, trafficking and exploitation. The gender equality index shows that there only are 6 women in the parliament, 4 women in ministerial positions and 3 years of women as a head of state. This is a shockingly low number compared to for example Canada. The current cabinet of Canada exists out of 50% female and 50% male. Which is a great example to show the world that it is achievable.
Before I continue let me give you a bit of information about the history of the Thai women. For a men to marry a women, the family of the groom discuss with the bride’s family how much sinsod (dowry) they must pay. Therefore parents of a girl would try to arrange marriages with fortunate men. – This is still happening, but fortunately not in such a ways as it used to be. – So men actually bought their wife and it was easy for them to see their wives as ‘property’. Thai men have historically been dominant men and it was not considered strange if men would physically abuse their wives. Their wives on the other hand, always had to take care of the children and do all the housework. Since women were supposed to take care of these tasks they did not have opportunities to attend any sort of education or in the work force. The first time women had a chance to work was in 1880 mostly during the Vietnam war. A lot of women started working as sex slaves. That is quite depressing don’t you think?
However, recently there have been some changes. In 1997 it was the first time that women were granted equal rights. This was reconfirmed in the 2007 constitution as well.
Nowadays there are still less girls than boys in the primary education despite the gender gap is decreasing. A very surprising and satisfying result is: girls have exceeded the amount of boys attending higher education. Because women are now able to access quality education they have more opportunities in politics and other former men dominated work forces.
As shown in th chart above, a lot of women and men are performing the same jobs. As the latest report of NSO claims as well. (national statistical office, report December 2015)
So, the constitution of 1997 was a very big and helpful step. It took them a long time, but women are able to have the same rights and access to the same opportunities that men do.
However, is this enough?
1. Only around 13.3 %of seats in Thailand’s national parliament are occupied by women.
2. Women were not and are still not accepted in military and police functions.
3. There are still some inequalities in the law. Specific laws concerning domestic violence have not been enacted, and the rules of evidence make prosecuting such cases very difficult.
4. Domestic violence is often not reported, since victims and the police view it as a private matter.
5. Sexual harassment in the workplace was made illegal in 1998, but only in the private sector, and no cases have been prosecuted so far.
6. As many of you will probably know, sex trafficking and everything that relates to it is still an important factor in this measure. However I will discuss this subject in one of my next blogs, since Thailand is the source, destination and place of transit of human and sex trafficking.
7. Police and military academies do not accept female students.
8. There is still a gap between the average salaries of men and women since women are concentrated in lower-paying jobs.
9. While there have been improvements , women remain underrepresented in national politics.
Thailand was known for its mistreatment and inequality of women. Only since the constitution of 1997 women are considered to be equal compared to men. Despite, it still noticeable in everyday life that women suffered from a rough start. But nowadays more and more women are striving for their justice. More and more women are becoming leaders and are working in decision making positions. So there is improvement, but women not only in Thailand, women all over the world, are still not there…