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Kingdom needs more women in Parliament, UN official says

Thailand should do more to increase the number of women in the House and Senate - and it may require temporary policy intervention, a senior United Nations figure said.

UN Assistant Secretary-General John Hendra, deputy executive director for policy and programme at UN body the Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, said Thailand was in the low bracket internationally, given that women here make up only 14 per cent and 17 per cent of MPs and senators respectively.

Hendra, in Bangkok for a meeting today, said: "It's important to have women in leadership. Southeast Asia doesn't do that well on political participation [of women].

"Thailand is one example that has a long way to go. Thailand needs to do more in stimulating greater political participation [for women]."

Hendra said Vietnam and East Timor were ahead of the Kingdom in this regard.

He said more women in political power tended to mean more progressive legislatures.

While stopping short of saying what Thailand should do in order to gain more women MPs and senators, he said some countries had adopted temporary special measures or policy intervention to raise the number of woman politicians.

Temporary law

Thailand could introduce a temporary electoral law requiring that a certain percentage of party-list candidates from all the parties be women.

Hendra said Rwanda introduced temporary measures to guarantee that women made up at least 30 per cent of politicians and the figure had increased to as high as 63 per cent.

He was "saddened" and disappointed by the level of misogyny on display in Thai politics from both sides.

"Stereotyping of any kind is unproductive and affects what people think of Thailand," he said.

"It's not what the international community looks at Thailand for.

"It's not in anybody's interests. I am saddened because Thailand has always been looked at as a beacon of tolerance."

Roberta Clarke, UN WOMEN regional director and representative in Thailand, said collectively people had to think about how to address the issue of misogyny in Thai politics in order to affirm the dignity of women.


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