Leadership Academy gets a boost from Thai Prime Minister, UNDP

13 Dec 2012

image UNDP Thailand/Mark S. Cogan | Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra listens to opening remarks at the December 11 Launch of the Leadership Academy for Muslim Women.

The United Nations Development Programme, and the Ministry of Social Security and Human Development gave a big boost to women in the Southern Provinces of Thailand on Tuesday December 11, when H.E. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra presided over the national launch of the 'Leadership Academy for Muslim Women' at Government House.

“We are here today to support the Thai Muslim people of the 14 southern provinces to build a real chance for their own,” the H.E. Prime Minister said.

“By closely working with UNDP and The Ministry of Social Security and Human Development, we are pleased to launch a Leadership Academy for Muslim Women, which aims to support women to build and develop their potential to help and develop their communities and societies.”

Out of about roughly 7,000 political positions in villages and towns across Thailand, women account for just 4 percent. In Parliament, women make up just 16%, although they represent more than half of Thailand’s population. There is only one Muslim woman member of Parliament in Thailand.

The Academy Programme will train Muslim women in the South through two distinct training programmes. The first programme will equip participants with skills to participate and take leading roles in community development activities. The second will further develop skills for women who want to pursue political ambitions and will focus more intensively on skills for political participation.

“We know that education alone is not enough. Women must have equal access to government and political parties. Education alone will not elect more women to public office in Thailand. Education alone will not elevate women into positions where they can be seen as equal to men at the decision-making table,” said UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Luc Stevens.

“That can only be done by people in power and the political machinery that put them there. This Academy will not only help these women develop the skills needed to pursue political office, but pair them with political entities in their communities, and where possible mentor them by people who are already in political positions,” Stevens said.

The Academy will also provide opportunities for women to be mentored by women already in political positions and will offer participants the chance to intern at political entities in their communities and provinces.

Upon completion, participants will be assigned to work in political entities in their respective areas on internship basis, and where possible, learn from and be mentored by Muslim women who are already in political positions.

The Prime Minister was joined by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Mr. Phongthep Thepkanjana, Minister of Interior Mr. Jarupong Ruangsuwan, Mr. Santi Prompat, Minister of Social Development and Human Security, and Ms. Rarinthip Sirorat, Deputy Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

Women hold just a small percentage of executive positions in local, village and sub-district administrations. As of 2007, women accounted for just 11% of sub-district administrative organizations, membership of PAO/SAO councils and members of municipal councils. The proportion was the lowest in the South.

“I consider this project as an important opportunity for raising the number of women participation in the administrative level as the project aims to build their leadership skills and to prepare those project participants to implement some development projects in their communities,” H.E. Prime Minister said in her remarks.