On June 14, officials from the Committee for the Progress and Wellbeing of Children, Youth, Women, the Elderly, the Handicapped and the Underprivileged and representatives from the Senate attended an academic seminar co-hosted by the Subcommittee on Women and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (Thailand). The seminar was held at the Senate’s second building and titled “Moving Toward an ASEAN Community in 2015: Preparation and Cooperation of ASEAN Women”; it was organized in order to exchange information about important policies that will affect ASEAN females and create new ideas that will improve the status and role of Thai women. Female leaders and politicians from the ASEAN region were also in attendance.
A highlight of the seminar was the debate on the problems and opportunities of preparing women for the ASEAN Community in 2015. Participants of this debate were Minister to the PM’s Office Nalinee Taweesin, Deputy President of the Senate of Philippines Maria Isabella Beng Climaco, MP and Member of Myanmar’s Democratic Party Nan Wah Nu, MP and Member of Singapore’s Democratic Party Jaslyn Go, Head of Youth Women in Malaysia’s Gerakan Rakyat Party Chia Ting Ting, Leader of Cambodia’s Human Rights Party Kem Sokha and Representative from the Vietnamese Embassy Le Mai Huong.
Minister Taweesin said that it is clear in today’s world that women are no less talented than men, as can be seen from the success of women in various social circles ranging from science to art to politics to spirituality to helping the underprivileged. Despite the greater role of women in society, there are issues that need to be addressed: namely, distributing more power to women and defending women’s rights. The Thai government has started a fund to improve the status of women by creating jobs, creating careers, organizing seminars and assisting underprivileged women. A mother, for example, can now use money from this fund to develop computer skills and help her child learn to use his or her government-sponsored tablet.
Jaslyn Go from Singapore said that more progress has to be made to equalize men and women’s statuses in society. The Singaporean Constitution places great importance on gender equality through anti-discrimination laws but Singapore still lacks female politicians even though there are a high number of female business leaders.
Kem Sokha and Nan Wah Nu, representatives from Cambodia and Myanmar, agree that an area that needs improvement is women networking and connectivity, especially in poorer regions. Since most women do not understand the significance and effects of integrating into the ASEAN Community, men must partner with women organizations to educate women on this transition, they said.
Chia Ting Ting revealed that Malaysian women are viewed as second-class citizens. Nevertheless, he said that there are female leaders in many countries, such as Thailand, India and the Philippines; these are women who are prepared and well educated. Therefore, our main goal should be to expand education and opportunities to women in the countryside, he added.