The gender equality fruits
Today marks International Women’s Day, which was first announced by the United Nations in 1975.
The day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women worldwide while calling to accelerate women’s equality. The theme for this year is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”.
While there have been countless stories of achievements made by inspiring women, there are millions of women, especially those in low-income tiers, who suffer poverty, discrimination and exploitation.
Thailand is a showcase example that women from a middle-class background or above have more of a chance of a bright future.
In terms of policy, Thailand has strived to integrate pro-gender equality and women’s rights international treaties, principles and instruments into legislation and policy beginning in 1985 when the country ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. It has since issued policies on education and labour laws to put women on par with males.
Such attempts have paid off.
Thailand has a greater percentage of women in private sector senior leadership roles than both the Asia-Pacific region and the global average, according to Grant Thornton’s Women in Business Report 2020.
Thailand is also performing comparatively well when it comes to having women in the highest positions of power: 24% of CEOs and executive roles in Thailand are women, compared to 20% worldwide and only 13% in Asia-Pacific. Thailand has the world’s highest percentage of female CFOs (43%) and the third-highest percentage of female CEOs.
Yet, that inspiring trend occurs on the top of the pyramid.
According to the Association for the Promotion of the Status of Women, the majority of women — especially those in lower-income tier work in the informal sector such as the agriculture or service sectors — face job insecurity while being deprived of fair and sufficient social welfare support.
In terms of business opportunities, women entrepreneurs have only a fraction.
Thailand is considered an unsafe place for women, especially migrant workers from neighbouring countries — Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos — with many of them being trafficked to be exploited here.
So policymakers have a number of challenges ahead in the promotion of women’s equality.
More creative policies and laws are needed to ramp up welfare and work opportunities. Greater effort is needed in crime-busting and corruption eradication to help end human trafficking operations where women are prime victims.
Yesterday, women groups submitted petition letters to the prime minister asking the government to revise some policies and launch campaigns to promote gender equality.
Among the proposed policy changes the government can do is to make domestic violence, crimes against women and human trafficking serious criminal offences on par with serious narcotics charges. The petitions also called for the opening of a centre to provide help to victims of domestic violence and promote school safety in regards to bullying and sexual assault.
The road to gender equality requires creative policy changes and political courage. Its fruits are worthwhile as only a society with gender equality can grow both sustainably and become a fair one.