In Thailand: Women & the Upcoming Constitutional Referendum
August 8, 2007
Thailand’s first-ever national referendum on a draft constitution, to be held on August 19, 2007, will be another historic day for women in Thai politics. Whether or not the charter will be accepted in the referendum, the gender equality movement in Thailand has already taken another notable step.
Thailand’s 1997 Constitution not only achieved great progress in protecting civic rights, but also in improving gender equality. Provision 30 (“Men and women shall enjoy equal rights”) and Provision 53 (“Children, youth and family members shall have the rights to be protected by the State against violence and unfair treatment”) have proven to be powerful tools in amending unequal laws as well as calling attention to gender sensitivity in society over the past 10 years.
What more do women stand to gain in the new constitution if passed? What does the women’s movement want and how is it working to obtain it in the new charter?
At the forefront of the fight to include gender equality in the Thai constitution is the Women’s Movement in Thai Political Reform (WeMove). WeMove was formed in May 2006, prior to the September 19 coup d’etat, by the working group of Women and Constitution Network (WCN) and other leading women’s advocacy groups. WeMove’s goals are to reflect mainstream gender perspectives in Thai political reform, especially in the revision of the Constitution.
This year, with the help of WeMove, women’s advocacy groups submitted eight proposals on gender issues to the Constitution Drafting Committee. Seven out of the eight have been approved and are now ready to face approval or rejection by Thai voters this month.
If passed, these seven provisions will further advance women’s role in Thai politics and provide increased security. For instance, for the first time, victims of violent sexual crimes would be protected under the judicial process by Article 40(6). Another article, number 97, would establish a mechanism to promote equal political participation and representation at the national level. If passed, political parties will have to consider submitting an equal number of men and women to run on the party list ballot for proportional seats in the House of Representatives.
If the charter is accepted on the referendum day, the general election will take place in late December. But WeMove is too busy to sit back and contemplate these achievements. Currently, they’re preparing 1,000 women to run for parliament seats in the coming national election.
Ms. Phusahas is a Program Officer for The Asia Foundation in Thailand.
About our blog, In AsiaIn Asia is a weekly in-depth, in-country resource for readers who want to stay abreast of significant events and issues shaping Asia's development, hosted by The Asia Foundation. Drawing on the first-hand insight of over 70 renowned experts in over 20 countries, In Asia delivers concentrated analysis on issues affecting each region of Asia, as well as Foundation-produced reports and polls.
In Asia is posted and distributed every Wednesday evening, Pacific Time and is accessible via email and RSS. If you have any questions, please send an email to [email protected].
ContactFor questions about In Asia, or for our cross-post and re-use policy, please send an email to [email protected].
The Asia Foundation
465 California St., 9th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104
PO Box 193223
San Francisco, CA 94119-3223
THE LATEST ACROSS ASIA
Deutsche Welle: Asia bids farewell to Barack Obama
January 20, 2017
Q&A: Minister Han Sung-Joo on Korea’s Constitutional Crisis & President Trump
January 18, 2017
Reflecting on 17 Years as Country Representative in the Philippines
January 18, 2017
Asian Views on America’s Role in Asia: Special Events in Asia
Asian Views on America's Role in Asia
Recommendations for the Incoming U.S. President on Policy Towards Asia