Boost female role in politics, seminar told

Boost female role in politics, seminar told

Campaigners have called on charter drafters to increase women's role in politics, proposing that one-third of the cabinet, the House of Representatives, the Senate and local executives should be female.

This was just one of the proposals at a seminar, entitled "Hearing Women's Voices before Drafting the Charter", held at the Prince Palace Hotel in Bangkok yesterday.

In a session where participants were divided into four groups to represent gender equality, the role of women in politics, the economy and social issues, feedback indicated that the new charter must ensure women make up at least one-third of the cabinet, the Lower and Upper houses as well as local administrative bodies.

Other proposals included budget support for local women's networks and the establishment of an independent body for women to put forward issues for the national agenda.

Cases of sexual violence where the victims are underprivileged children, youths, women and the disabled must be treated in line with Section 40 of the 2007 charter, according to the proposals.

Social critic Prawese Wasi said the new charter should address ways to narrow the gender divide, bolster decentralisation, increase the number of women in politics, allow them networks to take part in national reform and establish independent bodies to support female roles.

Somchai Charoenamnuaysuk, director of the Office of Women's Affairs and Family Development, said unfair treatment of women must be addressed.

He gave the example of women being prohibited from becoming pregnant soon after starting new jobs.

Asia Foundation's programme coordinator Ruengrawee Pichaikul said by narrowing gender disparity, reconciliation can be attained for society.

"Section 30 of the 2007 charter stipulates that there must be equal treatment for all genders without discrimination, including access to politics," Ms Ruengrawee said.

"But Thailand still has the lowest number of female politicians in the region," she added.

After the seminar, proposals were submitted to Charter Drafting Committee chairman, Borwornsak Uwanno, who gave the seminar's closing comments.

Mr Borwornsak said the 30% quota for women in politics, which has been adopted in  Western countries, should be taken into account.

It could begin with local administrative organisations, he said. 

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