About women's rights
"Of the 8.5 million households in the farm sector, 31% of household heads are women, and steadily increasing."
COMMENTARY: 'Progressive' society leaves women behind by Sanitsuda Ekachai
A commodity prices guarantee. A farm chemicals subsidy. Flood insurance. Credit cards for farmers. Financial aid for first-home owners. Debt refinancing. Five years' income tax exemption for first jobbers. An increase in the monthly support for the elderly from 500 to 1,000 baht.
The list goes on and on as political parties are noisily competing to offer all sorts of goodies to the voters. Of course, it all boils down to policy handouts to buy votes.
Yet even if we choose to ignore this fact, the voters who will benefit are still men more than women.
It is because even though Thai women are fully participating in the economy, they still face legal and cultural constraints that prevent them from equally benefiting from state policies and services, handouts or not.
For example, many benefits make it clear that only household heads need apply.
Household heads mean men - if not blatantly spelled out in the regulations, then in practice. When women apply, they are made to go through dizzying paperwork, and are often rejected.
This gender inequality question was recently raised by a network of women's rights groups and activists called WREST, which stands for Women Reshaping Thailand, to monitor election policies.
The same question is not only limited to policy giveaways. It also applies to such efforts such as land for the landless and access to low-interest credit for farmers to address structural inequality.
It will be scandalous if women farmers are bypassed by these policies because there are more women in the agricultural sector. They are also poorer.
According to the Community Development Department, of the 31.8 million people in the farm sector in 2009, there are about 200,000 women more than men.
Of the 8.5 million households in the farm sector, 31% of household heads are women, and steadily increasing. Female household heads also have less income than their male counterparts.
According to the National Statistics Office in 2009, there is a higher number of women among workers with primary education. Meanwhile, there are more men than women among the employees with a middle-range income. Interestingly, it is mostly women who are working for free for their families.
It is the same with the minimum wage. While the Democrat and Pheu Thai parties compete in upping each other with a higher figure, they are both blind to the different conditions, needs and concerns of women workers.
The problem is not only about lack of enforcement. Women have been routinely paid less than men despite the minimum wage law, or despite working in the exact same job. The new wage scale won't change that.
A big problem in a woman's life is the double workload from the traditional burden as wife and natural calling as mother. The minimum wage is calculated to support only one person, so it can never help workers/mothers to better provide for their children.
The husbands? Much research has shown that the husband's money goes largely on their social life. For the wives, it goes directly to feed the kids.
To help women workers, the policy must then go beyond the minimum wage to improve social policy such as a nursery at the workplace, longer paid maternity leave, a more egalitarian access to good education for their children, and a more effective alimony system.
Thai society is also fast ageing, with more elderly women than men. Since women live longer, and since they are expected to be care givers, the burden of the grey society falls flatly on women. Yet, all political parties are blind to this reality by focusing only on the monthly allowance for the elderly, which makes little difference in their life.
It is clear. There is an urgent need for policy intervention to bridge the gender gap in family and at work. The same goes for policies to protect women from gender discrimination, sexual harassment and domestic violence.
It is also an uphill task. No matter what policy the government dishes out, women will continue to be bypassed when policy-makers - and society as a whole - remain gender blind.
Sanitsuda Ekachai is Assistant Editor, Bangkok Post
(Source: Bangkok Post, COMMENTARY, 'Progressive' society leaves women behind, 2/06/2011, Sanitsuda Ekachai, link)
Women's Rights Vocabulary
women's rights - freedoms, rights and entitlements "claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies" (See Wikipedia)
progress (noun) - the process of gradually improving the way that things are done in a society and moving to a more advanced society (richer, happier, healthier, more equal, etc)
progressive society - when a society is gradually improving and moving to a more advanced society (richer, happier, healthier, more equal, etc)
'progressive' society - the quotes around 'progressive' emphasizes that this is a claim made by some, but may not be true
household - a group of people, often a family, who live together ครัวเรือน
gender - the fact of being either male or female เพศ (See Wikipedia)
rights - what the law allows you to have and do สิทธิ์ (See Wikipedia)
households - families or groups of people living together (economics treats this as a unit that makes decisions)
household head - head of household
counterparts - another person who has a similar function, work, or position in another organisation or place
male counterparts - men in the same position (as a woman is)
provide for children - when parents work and make to buy all the things that children need (food, clothes, shelter, medical care)
nursery - a place for young children (where someone can look after them while their parents are working), also called "daycare" อนุบาล
leave - time take off from work, either paid or unpaid (for example, "medical leave" to receive medical treatment) การพักงาน
maternity leave - time that a woman takes off from work then they are having a baby
egalitarian - supporting a social system in which everyone has equal status and the same money and opportunities ความเสมอภาค
alimony - money that a man who is separated and divorced from his wife has to pay to his wife each month for her support (and support of their children: "child support") (See Wikipedia)
care givers - people who look after people who need special help (children, older people, sick and disabled people)
gap - a large difference between people or groups ช่องว่าง
bridge the gap - end a difference between people or groups
bridge the gender gap - end a difference between women and men (differences in pay, for example)
discrimination - the practice of treating someone or a particular group in society less fairly than others
gender discrimination - when a job (or contract or other valuable thing) is given to a man because he is a man (women not given equal consideration) (See Wikipedia)
harassment - when a person tries to cause problems for another problem (continues to do something they do not want)
sexual harassment - "harassment (typically of a woman) in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks" (See Wikipedia and Google Definitions)
domestic - within the home and family
violence - physical force with the deliberate intention of causing damage to property or injury or death to people ความรุนแรง
domestic violence - violence between family members, usual involving husband hurting wife, has many forms including "physical aggression (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects), or threats thereof; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation," often the result of alcohol consumption (See Wikipedia)
gender blind - can't see the differences in the way that women and men are treated
guarantee - a promise that something will be done or will happen คำรับรอง, การประกัน (See glossary)
commodity prices guarantee - when the government arranges to pay farmers a price that guarantees them a certain income (even if prices fall)
subsidy - an amount of money that a government or organisation pays to help to reduce the cost of a produce or service เงินชดเชยที่รัฐเป็นผู้จ่ายให้
insurance - a system that pays money to help people harmed by bad event การประกัน (See Wikipedia)
aid - help; assistance ความช่วยเหลือ
financial aid - help by giving money
refinancing - replacing a loan with bad terms (high interest rate, short repayment period, etc) with a new loan that has better easier terms and conditions
income - money that people receive from work or some other source, used for household consumption and savings
income tax - a percentage of income paid to the government as tax
exemption - not required to do something (pay a tax, follow a rule, etc) ข้อยกเว้น
income tax exemption - don't have to pay part or all of the tax you normally have to pay to the government
support - help, by giving money, for example สนับสนุน
elderly - older people, over 60 or 65 สูงวัย, อาวุโส, อายุมาก
goes on and on - continues for a long time
political parties - groups of politicians working together to win elections พรรคการเมือง
goodies - treats, special things that people get (example: Suzy's mother handed out goodies to all the children at her daughter's birthday party including cakes and candies.)
X boils down to X - the meaning of X can be summerized as Y
policy - a set of plans or action agreed on by a government, political party, business, or other group นโยบาย (See Wikipedia)
handouts - things given to people for free (usually by the government) สิ่งที่หยิบยื่นให้ฟรี
ignore - to pay no attention to something; pretend that you have not noticed or do not know about something เพิกเฉย ทำเพิกเฉย
benefit - to get help or an advantage from something ผลประโยชน์
participating - doing some activity with other other people
constraints - things that limit possible action and solutions to problems
benefits - money, services, or goods you receive from a government or company programme เงินช่วยเหลือ
clear - easy to understand
make it clear - make it easy to understand
apply - make a formal request to get something
blatantly - in an obvious or open way โจ่งแจ้ง โอ้อวด อึกทึก
spelled out - give details
regulations - rules made by the government to control how some activity is done กฎระเบียบ ระเบียบปฏิบัติ ระเบียบ ข้อบังคับ
practice - a way of doing something การปฏิบัติ
paperwork - the routine part of a job of filling in forms, faxing, photocopying, filing, writing emails and reports งานเอกสาร
network - a large system of connected parts, organisations, people, etc. เครือข่าย
monitor - to regularly check something or watch someone in order to find out what is happening ตรวจสอบ ตรวจตรา
election - the process of choosing a person or a group of person for a position, especially by voting elect (v) electoral (adj) synonym: the polls การเลือกตั้ง
giveaways - free things (that a company or the government gives to people)
efforts - the work done towards achieving some goal ความพยายาม
access - the ability to get something สิทธิหรือโอกาสในการใช้
interest - payments made for the use of another's money for a period of time
credit - loans เครดิต เงินกู้
address - to deal with a problem จัดการปัญหา
scandalous - making people shocked and upset ซึ่งเสื่อมเสียชื่อเสียง, อื้อฉาว
bypassed - not included (the policy went around them and didn't include them)
sector - a part of the economy ภาคเศรษฐกิจของประเทศ (public sector = government, private sector = all businesses, household sector = families and consumers, banking sector,...) (See Wikipedia)
agricultural sector - all the farms and farm-related businesses in the economy
farm sector - same as "agricultural sector"
primary education - the first stage of required education from about 6 years old to about 12 years old depending on the country (See Wikipedia)
middle-range income - not rich, not poor, but in the middle (middle class)
wage - an amount of money that you earn for working, usually according to how many hours or days you work each week or month ค่าจ้าง
minimum wage - the lowest amount of money (according to law) that can be paid to a worker per day for her or his work
figure - an amount of money จำนวนเงิน
compete in upping each other with a higher figure - each tries to give more money away to people (in hopes of winning their votes and winning the election)
blind - unable to see ตาบอด
concerns - worries ความกังวล
lack - does not have ขาดแคลน
enforcement - the process of making sure that something happens, especially that people obey a law or rule การบังคับใช้กฎหมาย
routinely - done as a normal part of the job or process
wage scale - a list of different wages that people get (depending on certain conditions such as where they live)
double - to become twice as big, twice as much or twice as many เพิ่มเป็นสองเท่า
workload - the amount of work that a worker must do each day ปริมาณงานที่คนหรือเครื่องจักรทำได้ระยะเวลาหนึ่ง
traditional - things (clothes, music, customs, etc.) that have been part of a country or society for a long time
burden - a responsibility, a difficult thing that must be done, a heavy load to carry ภาระ (See glossary)
natural - what is expected and reasonable in a situation เป็นเรื่องปกติ ธรรมดา
calling - some special work that a person devotes themselves to with great energy (example: She decided that her calling would be to help poor people for the rest of her life.)
improve - to make better ทำให้ดีขึ้น
effective - works well, gets the job done, producing the result that was intended ได้ผลดี
expected - believe will happen คาดว่า (จะเกิดขึ้น)
burden of X falls on Y - group of people Y has to do the difficult work of X
grey society - a society with more older people (less younger people)
reality - actually happening ความเป็นจริง
allowance - an amount of money that someone receives in order to pay for the things that they need เงินสนับสนุน, เบี้ยเลี้ยง
urgent - must be done quickly, immediately ที่เร่งด่วน
intervention - becoming involved in a situation and trying to change it การแทรกแซง
task - a piece of work that someone does หน้าที่
uphill task - something that you have to do, often something that is difficult or unpleasant ภารกิจ
No matter what policy - any policy chosen (and therefore, every policy)
dishes out - gives to people (like put food on the plates of many people waiting for food in a cafeteria)