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March 2023

Happy Women's Day! Celebrating International Women's Day (IWD) on March 8 grew out of the labor movement to become a recognized annual event by the United Nations (UN). The origins date back to 1908 when 15,000 women marched through New York City to demand better working conditions, higher pay, and voting rights. The following year, the Socialist Party of America proclaimed the first National Woman's Day.

The idea of turning the day into an international celebration came from Clara Zetkin, a communist activist and women's rights advocate. In 1910, at the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, Zetkin proposed the idea, which was unanimously supported by the 100 women from 17 countries who attended.

IWD was first observed in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. This year, we are celebrating the 112th International Women's Day.

Thailand has been a favorable place for women’s liberation. Thai women were the first in Asia to be granted the right to vote. Today they continue to have a significant voice in addressing crucial issues such as employment, healthcare, reproductive rights, and education.

Thai women are making strides in various fields. They perform better academically, and more women than men are graduating from college, indicating that they will soon be exerting their influence in their chosen professions.

According to research from Grant Thornton International (2019), women in Thailand hold 33% of all CEO and Managing Director jobs in the private sector, double the world average and higher than any other country in Southeast Asia.

Even though Thai women hold executive roles in public and private sectors, they are generally still underrepresented, especially in the parliament, government, judiciary and administration at national and local levels. Women account for only 23.9 % of high-ranking civil servants, and gender equality in senior leadership positions has risen by just 3% in the last fifteen years.

In rural areas, many women in Thailand remain affected by poverty, discrimination and exploitation. They are concentrated in insecure and vulnerable jobs in the informal sector, including agriculture and as own account and contributing family workers, with only a minority in senior positions.

On the downside, violence against women and girls remains prevalent in Thailand. A UN study found that nearly 90 per cent of rape cases in Thailand go unreported. Victims fear retaliation from the abusers, who are often close to survivors, such as husbands or live-in partners. Victims may feel pressured to tolerate violence in their homes for the sake of their family's reputation and survival. Additionally, societal expectations of how "good women" should behave or dress can lead to victim blaming and shaming.


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