UNDP seminar to ask: Is political equality a reality for women?

07 Dec 2011

imageUNDP Thailand

In an effort to close the political gap women face when seeking public office, UNDP and the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS) will host a national seminar on women’s political empowerment held at the Amari Watergate Hotel, December 8, at 8:30a.m., Ballroom C, 6th Floor.

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.

“The [seminar will] emphasize the importance of women’s participation in the decision-making process, in creating policy and mechanisms to govern the country,” said H.E. Minister Santi Prompat, Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

UNDP and MSDHS will unveil a new documentary featuring Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and opposition party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva. The film highlights the struggle of Siriporn Panyasen, a local SAO chief from Lampang.

The film chronicles her struggles as a child, where she left school at the age of 14 to tend to her sick father and provide for her family and documents early local resistance to her political ambitions.

“As a government we have a policy to promote gender equality. Today men and women have the freedom to express themselves politically, in administration and in various businesses.  The government has a policy to---besides just promoting women’s rights,--create a women’s development fund. This is another policy that will promote women in terms of knowledge, equality and the various laws.  This will develop and give women more involvement in all arenas,” Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said during her documentary interview.

UNDP and the MSDHS commissioned a study--which will be detailed during the seminar--on increasing the number of women in Thai politics, tapping Dr. Juree Vitchit-Vadakan, the Chairperson of the Center of Philanthropy and Civil Society at NIDA. The preliminary study concludes that the use of a gender quota system could be one mechanism to increase the number of women in politics.

However, it notes that a quota system should be used in concert with other measures and should begin at the local level.

The national seminar, will include a panel discussion on women in politics, featuring Dr. Ratchadaporn Kaewsanit, Member of Parliament, Democrat Party, Mr. Phongthep Thepkanjana, former Minister, Ministry of Justice, Ms. Sriyada Palimapun, Secretary to the Minister of Social Development and Human Security, Mr. Somchart Jesrichai, Acting Secretary-General, Election Commission of Thailand, and moderated by Dr. Maytinee Bhongsvej, Executive Director, Association for the Promotion of the Status of Women. UNDP’s Asia-Pacific Regional Centre (APRC) will make a presentation on women in politics from a global perspective, from Dr. Simon Alexis Finley from the Global Programme on Electoral Support.

“Empowering women to lead their communities and become fully invested in the decisions that affect their lives and the lives of their families couldn’t be any more critical. If women make up more than 50 percent of the population, they should be entitled to equal representation. ,” said Mr. Yuxue Xue, UNDP Resident Representative (a.i) in Thailand.