Promoting Girls’ Education
Deputy Prime Minister highlighted importance of women’s right to education
First Lady Michelle Obama’s recently launched “Let Girls Learn” initiative resonates very well with Thailand’s efforts to promote women and girls’ right to education. “When 62 million girls worldwide are not in schools, that is not only a tragic waste of human potential. It is also a serious public health challenge, a drag on national economies and global prosperity, and a threat to the security of countries around the world, including our own,” Mrs. Obama stated in her opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal of March 15, 2015.
Earlier in New York on March 9, Deputy Prime Minister Yongyuth Yuthavong of Thailand, in his statement before the 59th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 59), reiterated that “the Thai society, as others worldwide, can rise to far higher achievements and prosperity if we give priority to improvement of women’s education, and their access to career and other opportunities.”
Thailand is implementing an education for all policy. All children must receive 9 years compulsory education and are entitled to receive 12 years basic education. This is further reinforced by the 15-year free education program for all, from kindergarten up to high school level, regardless of sex and nationality.
The country has been exerting efforts to ensure half of its population is not left behind. The government has amended and enacted laws and developed mechanisms to help promote and protect the rights of women and girls, in line with our obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The draft Gender Equality Bill, already approved by the National Legislative Assembly, is another testament of our unwavering efforts to safeguard women and girls’ rights.
One of the main obstacles in the promotion and protection of women’s rights and gender equality lies in the negative stereotyping of women and gender roles within society. The Thai Government aims to address this problem through mainstreaming human rights and gender equality at all levels of education, providing training for teachers and educational staff to enhance their understanding about gender issues, and encouraging the media to help raise awareness about gender equality. Efforts have also been made to engage men in addressing the problem of violation of women’s rights. The 11th Women’s Development Plan (2012-2016) highlights several priority areas to enable women to fully realize their human rights.
At home, Mrs. Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative is about “inspiring young people to commit to their education” and “to connect with other young people from every background and nationality.” Such a commitment and aspiration is commendable. Thailand looks forward to doing more with the United States on women’s empowerment, including through such initiatives as the Equal Futures Partnership (EFP), the Women’s Entrepreneurial Centers of Resources, Education, Access, and Training for Economic Empowerment (WECREATE) under Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI), as well as the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) and other people-to-people projects.
As a small but hopefully impactful step in contributing to this, the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington welcomed the Girls Scout Brownie Troop 2386 from Bowie, Maryland on March 13, 2015. The Girl Scouts has chosen Thailand as their Think Day country. They learned about Thailand’s rich culture through a briefing and a visit to the Embassy’s “Thai Corner”.