Articles

Here are a few abstracts from articles that I’ve written over the years on numerous subjects. The copyrights held are with the respective book publishers below.

DISTANCE LEARNING ON POPULATION ISSUES

One innovation in the United Nations system concerning staff training is the United Nations Population fund (UNFPA) Project, Distance learning Course on Population Issues (DLPI). This project began in 1999 at the United Nations Staff College in Turin, Italy, when UNFPA received a three-year grant from the United Nations Fund to implement the Programme of Action of the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development, and in the following years the related outcomes of other United Nations World Conferences, including the Beijing Fourth World Conference on Women.
The course on Advocacy, adolescent sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS prevention, reproductive health/family planning, maternal mortality, and the most recent one, gender mainstreaming, provide in-service training to a large number of United Nations staff working in programmes and projects around the world. The aim is to address the need of the global shortage of people trained in population and development issues, offering an alternative and cost effective solution to the need of training not only UNFPA staff, but also other United Nations project personnel, officials of Governments and NGOs.
DLPI is based on the concept of supported self-learning via Internet. Each course takes place outside the normal classroom or campus situation in the learner’s own home or place of work with the help of trained tutors to be “facilitators of learning” rather than traditional teachers or lecturers. Students are given a chance to evaluate the performance and knowledge of their tutor and also of the course administrator. UNFPA will drop tutors who receive low evaluation points from students. The tutor’s role is to guide students through the course content, methodology and requirements, provide personal support as resource person, remedial tutoring for students with difficulties, and helpful feedback on assignments. Tutor will also assess student progress, give advice and support on academic issues related to the course.
Students are required to spend 40 hours of their time, 5-7 hours per week for 7-8 weeks in total per semester. Since it is self-programmed learning, the students manage their own time. While it is not compulsory, students may receive a certificate at the end of the semester upon completion of two successfully graded assignments.
(Full article is printed in the Network, the UN Women’s Newsletter, pages 12/13, Vol.9 – No 3, July, August, September 2005)

TOWARDS LIBERATING WOMEN

Masculine and feminine stereotyping exists in almost every culture. Men are supposed to be strong, logical, analytical, systematic, fearless, and assertive whereas women are supposed to be the opposite—soft, emotional, uncertain, timid, shy, intuitive, and fearful. Human beings with “masculine qualities” dominate society. Rules and social structure are set up by men to suit their own purposes, which—even if this is seldom blatantly articulated—serve to keep them in permanent power and full control of the total human society.
Tradition has forced women to conform to codes that restrict their behavior and make them subservient to men—whether fathers, husbands, or brothers. These codes were enunciated long ago in religious texts and elaborated in plays, poems and stories. Such oppressive codes “kill without drawing blood” as the Chinese saying goes; their destructive effects have prevented women from realizing their potential for centuries.
Women who do get to a policy-making level almost invariably are shown by the media to be unusual and interesting exceptions. This is one of the reasons why many successful women believe that there is no sex discrimination in work, and that they have reached the top by working hard. They look down on women in general and identify with men, considering themselves superior to other women. They accept the present male-dominated social structure because they are successful in it. They do not feel it necessary to help other women to reach higher and to balance power between the two sexes; doing so would make them stand out less as “special beings” in society. Like the slaves invited to dine at his master’s table, they consider themselves to be better than other slaves.
What we are struggling against, then, is the acceptance—by men and women—of a male-dominated structure. Our goal should be more than equality between men and women in the present structure. It should be to remove all barriers that make one group of human beings dominate, manipulate, and exploit other human beings—in this case because of sex. We should strive for ending the dependency of one human being upon another or of one sex upon another, for the abolition of sex slavery (which marriage in its present form is to countless numbers of women), and for ending of economic dependency of wives.
Changing the present social structure and balancing the social, political and economic power between men and women require a revolutionary change in basic attitudes of the majority of the people in any society. This change of attitude will not come about without a systematically planned program of development support communication. Limited access to the media of communication is a barrier to changing attitudes toward women. At present, sophisticate media are controlled by the ruling elites of most societies, and they are mainly in the hands of men.
Women as a group have very little to do with the policy, strategy, and the use of these media. All media—from folk plays, to picture prints, radio and television—are being used to perpetuate the power that be, that is, the male dominated social structure, which discriminate against women.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the media are very much responsible for the extreme reaction from many people around the world against the women’s liberation movement, which embraces all kinds of women from all walks of life, from young school girls to housewives, to professional women, and small but increasing numbers of men who understand the movement’s real character and objectives.
A communication strategy for improving the position and roles of women has two main objectives: the behavioral objective of breaking down the myths and realities of male supremacy and bringing about the acceptance of women as independent persons; and the development objective of improving the quality of life for everyone.
Women have begun to “find” themselves by getting together, exchanging experiences, and setting up a worldwide movement. The movement is by no means homogeneous, but its strength already has been recognized. How far and how fast the restructuring of society can be achieved to accommodate women and men as equal human beings will depend on how women and men in the movement plan their communication strategy and programs. Differences in the magnitude and the nature of the problem require variations of approach and action.
In societies such as those of Western Europe and North America, where the middle class constitutes the majority of the population, the strategy might well concentrate on correcting the laws in regard to marriage and property ownership and rules and regulations concerning job opportunities and promotion. But in the developing countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, where the majority of the people, especially women, still live a hand-to-mouth existence, special attention will have to be paid to the realization of all human potential for improving the quality of life; the developing countries cannot afford the luxury of not using the brainpower and talents of both sexes in productive activities.
It is not enough just to concentrate on changing some of the specific forms of inequity and discrimination. The urgency of the situation requires the change of the total structure of society and redefinition of the role of the individual in it, regardless of sex. Communication could help to increase the pace of change and to ease the “growing pains” that will come with these massive changes.

A fuller version is printed in the book “Women and World Development,” edited by Irene Tinker and Michele Bo Bramsen, under the auspices of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Overseas Development Council 1976, Library of Congress Card Catalog No. 76-16704.

 

COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIES FOR IMPROVING OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN THROUGH DEVELOPMENT

Conditioning Factors and Processes:

Women constitute more than half of the adult population of this earth, but they do not have the same opportunity as men to develop their individual potentials and to be involved in decision-making roles in organized society. Women have been conditioned by the family and society to want less in life than men, to be content with service-giving types of work and activities, and to be satisfied with the wifehood and motherhood functions. They have been encouraged by society and its communication media to accept that the only goal in life is for them to marry and have children. In many societies the parents arrange for girls to marry at puberty, when the girls do not have much choice but to agree. Early marriage has blocked opportunities for millions of women to develop their own identities, to get education, and to establish their intellectual and economical self-reliance. The great majority of women who marry early are automatically limited to motherhood and related traditional role. By tradition, religion, law and plain simple fact, everywhere there are discriminatory barriers that prevent women from making choices in life other than motherhood. Familiar expressions that describe women’s inferior status are “second-class citizen,” “third-class passenger,” and “forgotten resource in development.” Many groups of women are trying to change this condition.

In Thailand a young woman wrote a poem in Thammasart University student magazine, Lep, in 1973, saying, “One man…one woman…holding hands…walking along together. He is not the front legs of the elephant…She is not the hind legs of the elephant”. She was attempting to counter the traditional Thai teaching that the man is the front legs and the women the hind legs of the proverbial Thai elephant. The assumption behind this proverb is that the man is the leader and the women the follower. The hind legs can never be the first to arrive unless moving backward. To go forward, the front legs will have to lead the way. Ofcourse, the hind legs can protest and not cooperate by sitting tight on the ground, but the interpretation would then be that women, the hind legs of the elephant, do not want progress.This is the kind of conditioning that limits women’s opportunities.The reward and penalty system in community and employment institutions has to be analyzed for improvement, because the system is one of double standards in most societies. The criteria for assessing occupational success and promotion are different for women than for men. Men are rewarded by the system for hard work, sound judgement, assertiveness, and leadership, while these are not the qualities considered desirable in women.

Because of this double standard, many women learn how to play up to the male ego and manipulate the system in order to get ahead in business and in government bureaucratic institutions. The usual pattern is either for women to find a strong and powerful man in the organization to manipulate by using their cultivated charms or sexuality or for her to build up a weak man and control him. Power behind the throne is a well-known syndrome in Southeast Asia. Success and failure is measured by the way she “supports” or “pushes” the man to succeed.

Carmen Nagpil gave the following example in her essay on Myth and Reality:
“A great many family fortunes and gigantic business enterprises in the Philippines were started by women….the filipina starts a little business while her husband and the children are taking their siesta. Perhaps her grandmother left her some diamond earrings, or she has a prosperous cousin in the next town. This is capital enough. The business is installed in a little nook of her home. There are prolonged sneers from the man of the house: the fighting cocks are shedding their feathers what with all this activity, and his cronies cannot carouse as they used to do. But the business continues and thrives spectacularly. With or without training, the Filipina is a born money-maker. She is determined, ruthless and disposed to take infinite pains. After some time, she is in a position to hire her husband away from his job. She installs him as president of her firm and he recieves many plaques and ribbons from this and that chamber of commerce for his foresight and integrity. She allows him to buy her a set of dazzling brilliants and a new house. He makes a speech saying that he owes everything to his wife’s gentle and unstinting support. All the Filipino men in the audience preen their feathers; the women never bat an eyelash. Clad in their gaudy, angel-winged ternos, their hair piled high in the latest silly fashion so delicate so doll-like, they succeed in making their men believe what they hear. It has often been said that Filipino society is a matriarchy. But it is a kind of underworld matriachy. Ostensibly, it is a man’s world. but the women rule without anybody but themselves knowing it”.

The way women themselves consider success, and the way society sets up criteria for women’s success, as clearly showned above, is quite different. What we are trying to do is to change the double standard to a single standard that is equal for male and female in terms of reward and disincentive in the family and in work situations.Another important factor that does not give women equal opportunity and treatment in work is the false belief that the majority of women in the world work only in the home. This is an ideal middle-class view that does not exist in reality. Even women who are working every day outside home are convinced that they are not really workers. This false conciousness prevents women from thinking about their work in career development terms, that is, in terms of ambition, goals, objective, strategies, priority, demands and rights. The communications media are very much responsible for the generation of this false conciousness, since their programs almost always portrait women in home situations.

Because the women themselves, and the society as a whole, do not see women as the main income earner of the family, their motivation to work is often questioned. Prejudice runs high when it comes to hiring women in employment. There are appalling stories that women tell each other about their experiences in job interviews. The following remarks by employers are given here as an example: Sorry, but we don’t hire…
Single Girls: they’ll just leave to get married,
Married Women: they’ll just leave to have kids,
Mothers: they should stay home with their kids,
Lesbians: they might make advances to other women,
Women Whose Husbands Are Working: they don’t need the money.
(MS Magazine Advertising Leaflet 1976).

Women and the Right to Communication:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights contains the following: “Every one has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and idea through any media and regardless of frontiers”. Women as a group, have the quality of a backward community: their opinions are not seriously considered, and their voices are often not heard. It is only recently that their combined strengthand voice are beginning to be considered, but only by some progressive quarters in the power structure. The communications media have been in the hands of men, and they use them to motivate or force women to fit into submissive roles. In development, the media have been used by male officials and politicians in all fields to solicit so-called popular participation, where they speak and women listen and do what they suggest. This pattern of participation leaves the present social and economic structure basically unchanged, because in their opinion the women should join in the present structure. The problem is that the present structure is not good for all people, especially women, because it is male-dominated.

Women as a group, do not have an equal chance to use the media for their own development. Women’s realities, knowledge, and creative potential are often hidden from the media. The policy makers and planners in most countries are men with traditional ideas about what women should be. They therefore, do not promote any fast change in planning and programming. There are few planners in the world at present, that we can call “real development planners.” We have quite a few “physical resource development” planners around, but we don’t have many “human development” planners. The real development planners are those who consider the total human potential, aspiration, and knowledge and make use of them in exploration of physical resources in order to improve the quality of life for all.

The planners in development communication that we have to keep an eye on, are those who promote the communication concept of “diffusion of innovation.” They believe that development means technological development and that the role of development workers is to sell new “innovation” to passive receivers. They try to make development workers become the “diffusers of innovation” and try to turn the people into acceptors of innovation. This kind of model of development is obsolete. It maintains the status quo of the male elites. They perceive themselves as active agents of change while the people are passive receivers of their ideas and activities. Before the situation of women improves, we have to change this pattern of thinking in development.

The communication environment of women have been quite different from men. Women in general, have always been comfortable in informal environments, and in situation in which there is an exchange of feelings, ideas, knowledge, and ways of doing things. Women, more than men, often insist that there be a two-way communication in any encounter or gathering. When women get together, we can see the difference from when the men get together. The difference is that, for women, it is more often an inter-personal experience or happening, and for men, it is often a lecture-type gathering to which one person is invited to be a “diffuser of innovation.” Participation from the audience is merely for question and answer. This is an authoritarian and paternalistic experience or happening. Women should promote their interpersonal style as the pattern for future gatherings.

The challenge for women now is how to turn the present hierarchical, rigid, and impersonal structure of society, especially of the mass media of television, radio, and the press, into an informal, flexible and personalized structure to which everyone has equal access. The power of communication, especially via the mass media, rest on its influence over opinions, ideas, attitudes and behavior. A large number of government officials and businessmen know this very well, and that is why they do not want the media to be under the control of the general public. We can see that the first most important act after any revolution or coup d’etat is the capture of the broadcasting stations and the control of the press because control over communications means control over the whole society. Women in large numbers have to quickly get into the structure of all the media and equally share the control of their development and use.

For women to gain equal influence in the media, the following strategies have to be followed:
1. Analyze the communication structure from the women’s and the truly humanistic point of view, which is its use of and impact on the women’s image and its attitude toward a genuinely humanistic approach to development.
2. Identify the people who are in control of the media and study the methods that are being used.
3. Note the aspects that need to be changed in the structure itself and in its program.
4. Identify key people who are already in the structure and who would and could be in support of the change (alies).
5. Identify the people in the present structure who are obstacles to change in order to find ways to either change their behavior and attitudes or get them out of the structure (adversaries).
6. Find ways to get into the media administrative, funding, and programming structure, new nonsexist people who are committed to improving opportunities for women in all development activities and to getting rid of sexism in society.
7. Plan the methodology and system of training of women in all aspects of communication (interpersonal and mass media), in production of programs, in engineering techniques, in administration, and in management.
8. Set targets for the above activities and map out short-term and long-term goal.
9. Evaluate the progress regularly in order to improve techniques and methods of operation.

Underlying these strategies and operations are two key principles that have been developed by the Chinese over 2000 years ago:
“1. An army may be likened to water… water leaves dry the high places and seeks the hollows; an army turns from strength and attacks emptiness. The flow of water is regulated by the shape of the ground; victory is gained by acting in accordance with the state of the enemy;
2. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” (Sun Tzu). Once the present global and national communication structure is changed, the task of achieving our goal is easier and can be performed quite smoothly to change the present economic and social structure, as well as the socio-cultural and psychological basis of the relationship between women and men.

Communication Strategies to Achieve These Goals:

1. Examine the process of social conditioning.
From the time they are born, girls and boys, have been conditioned by the family, community, and religious and educational institutions to behave and think according to the sexes they are born into. Women are brought up to be supportive to men, to be subordinate to the father and then to the husband, and to produce children – preferably boys. Educational processes have been designed for women to prepare them to perform this traditional role. It is different with men being conditioned that their role is mainly in the affairs of the community and the world. They are conditioned to lead others, to initiate activities, and to organize society. In most cultures, men are brought up to consider themselves more important than and superior to women. Because of this belief, they recieve better nutrition, health care and education. The conditional process does not vary much from one culture to another. The traditional pattern is the same whether it is in the East or the West. The leadership role is for men; the nurturing role is for women. Communication can help change this attitude by exposing them for analysis.

2. Emphasize the need to eliminate “sexism” and not just the requirement of equal integration of women in development. Communication programs will have to be planned for both women and men, aiming to change both their attitudes and their behavior. The word sexism is used here in the same way as the word racism. It is a belief that the human sexes have distinctive makeups that determine their respective lives, usually involving idea that one sex is superior and has the right to rule the other. It also means a policy of enforcing this asserted right and a system of government and society based upon it. As defined, sexism is not only an attitude that people have that discriminates one group of people from the other but a basic element in the whole social and economic structure in the world. The communications media have a key role in changing attitude, behavior, and structure by suggesting changes in those rules, regulations, and practices that do not give women equal opportunity to participate. Just to organize special programs for women or give special privilege to women workers will not eliminate sexism but instead will probably perpetuate sexist practices.

3. Identify the differences of attitudes, values, and needs of women from the aspect of social class, income, culture, and the effect on their relationship with men.
Questions one often hears are “What do the women need?” and “What do they want?”
It is neither fair nor realistic to ask these questions. The issue is not what women want but the fact that male-dominated society has conditioned women to want certain things and not to want certain other things. The other aspect needing attention is how organized structures such as the family and other formative or conditioning institutions prevent the women from wanting more than society thinks they should want. For instance, if a woman from a lower “class” or “caste” wants to be a doctor or banker, can she be, or is she only good enough as a basket weaver? Can a girl of 13 from a village in North Thailand pursue her ambition to become a judge or a scientist and not be diverted by her family and her community into spending her time sewing or embroidering hill-tribe products to sell to tourists? The chances are that she will not be given any choice or allowed to pursue he ambition for long before someone in the community puts a needle and thread in her hands. Communications strategies should go beyond equality between men and women within class or caste boundaries.

4. Realize that the social and economic environment in which the women’s movement
operates is a class-biased, institutionalized patraichy. Communications strategies will have to attack simultaneously these stumbling blocks to equal opportunity for women. Institutions like marriage, family and employment should exist for all to participate in and benefit from. They should be structured to enable women and men to develop their ability and potential for themselves and for each other, and for the betterment of the society in which they live as equal partners. Communications has a major role to play in developing a positive and non-sexist approach to human sexuality such as providing sex education to young people and adults and educating health workers and medical professions that the purpose of sexual health care should be the enhancement of life and personal relationships.

5. Promote the holistic approach in development planning, taking into consideration the ecosystem and biosphere and the potentialities and contributions of women and men and their relationships with each other.
Communication strategies should seek to raise question of how much and how far women are involved in development thinking and planning and how much they have benefited for the efforts so far. It is important to watch out for activities that can be called “reform without progress,” which means piecemeal reforms and small concessions granted under economic pressure or for political gain. An example is the granting of extended leave for women for child rearing rather than the provision of day-care services for both parents at the worksite. Under this type of “reform,” projects may be designed for women only and within the women’s traditional role rather than to fill the post in development organization at all levels with both men and women. Designing projects for men to enable them to perform some of the nurturing functions in the home and to change their sex-role biased behavior are necessary.

Conclusion:

To improve opportunities for women, communications strategies should be for both ends of the development spectrum…at community levels and at the highest governmental and political levels. Both ends of the spectrum will have to engage in self and community analysis to determine the psychological, sociological and economic costs and benefits of equal opportunity for both women and men to be involved in development.

Communications could point out the hope that freedom for women will bring about freedom for humanity. The change that the women’s movement wants does not mean the elimination of men or a return to matriachy; instead, it means that the men have to join the movement.

Communications strategies should encourage women to work towards intellectual self-reliance and to gain self-respect by planning and organizing their lives, not merely as appendixes to men in the role of wife and mother, but as members of the human society on an equal basis with men. Special training programs for women, even in technical or scientific fields will not bring about genuine and dynamic intellectual independence by themselves. The structure of society itself will have to be changed.

(Full version of this article is printed 30 years ago in the book “Equality of Opportunity Within and Among Nations” Edited by Khadija Haq, Praeger Special Studies in International Economics and Development, Published in the United States of America in 1977 by Praeger Publisher, New York.) ISBN:789-038-987654321.

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SISTERHOOD IS GLOBAL
Thailand Section

Before we can analyze the situation of Thai women, it is important to look back into the history of Thai culture, which for centuries have been influenced by Mon, Kmer, Chinese and Indian cultures. The Thai people have inherited Indian ideas about royalty, religion, litarature, language and mythology, and business and finance from the Chinese. Most of all, they have inherited concepts of the differences between male and female and the differences between the role and behavior of women of different classes. There have been vast differences between the way of life of Thai women from royal families and that of Thai women who work on farms. And between these two poles, there exist a large majority of business or market-women.

In education, Indian mythology has been passed on from one generation to the other, especially the strong power posessed by godesses such as Maya Sakti Devi, a world protecting supreme power that generates and animates the display of cosmic energy, Padma Devi, the lotus goddess exhibiting her breast with a familiar maternal gesture ruling over all the waters of the earth, and Ganga Devi, the powerful goddess of the river Ganga, who possesses a magic effect that transforms the nature of those devotees who touch her. Thai theatre and folk music have focused for generations on the story of Mekhala Devi, the goddess who saved Bodhisattava (one of the incarnation of Buddha) from a shipwreck, and also on the story of Lord Vishnu’s two queens, Sri Laksmi, who personified earth welfare, and Sri Sravati, who personified wisdom in making speeches and composing songs. Many Thai girls are named after these goddesses.

Strong female figures have been recognized in the formal Thai history. We honored women who led armies during the Thai-Burmese war: Thao Thepsatri, and Thao Sri Sunthorn, and also Thao Suranari. We recognized the importance of women who performed ceremonies in peacetime — marriage arrangements by “Mae Sue”, an elderly female go-between the mothers of the grooms and the brides.

In a favorite sixteenth-century Thai story, “Khun Chang Khun Paen”, it was the mothers who negotiated and arranged the marriage. The groom’s mother called on the bride’s mother and asked her consent with the following words “I have come to ask you for the seeds of mellon, marrow, and gourd, so that I may plant my fields. I have no silver to offer you, so I will give my son to serve you; please use him as you would use your sandals, and I will answer for him.” After marriage, the common practice in Thailand is that the groom moves in with the bride’s family.

In Thailand, all important things, such as rice, trees, and rivers, are represented by powerful goddesses. The goddess of rice is “Mae Phra Prasop”, and the goddess of banana tree is “Tani. “Maenam” mother water, is the guardian of the river. This is why Thai society is often called a matriarchy. But in modern-day Thailand, I would say that the society is a mixture between matriarchy and patriachy. The majority of Thai women are economically independent. They work in agriculture or industrial factories. Money-making and money management have traditionally been roles performed by Thai women. The buying and selling in local markets, in both cities and provinces, Are in the hands of women. Educated middle-class women go out to earn income as teachers, nurses, government officials and in commerce.

When married couples set up house, the the women normally provides the land and the man builds the house on it. This arrangement is considered best for the women’s security, for if the marriage dissolves, the man can leave but the house remains for the women and children– on her land. The Thai extended family structure assigns great power to mothers and mother-in-laws, and there is a strong support system among female family members. Women in Thailand have been taught by their mothers and grandmothers not to leave important things in life — earning money and providing food — to men. This special sense of responsibility is drummed into the ears of young girls. Considering “what is important in life” differently from men.

Thai women in general leave the affairs of community and national politics to men — because traditionally they have thought that politics is not a matter of life and death, therefore it can be left to men to talk and make speeches in parliament and government offices — while women are busy making money. That is why government management and the judicial system are mainly in the hands of men. More women are now realizing that they cannot afford to leave goverment and parliament to men either. But this adds another job to what is already a double work-load. Working women will normally rush home from their work before the husband comes home from his work, and to help children with their homework and look after their needs before bedtime.

Pleasing people is basic traditional training for Thai women; it is considered next in importance only to keeping tidy physical appearance. Women are supposed to be “riebroi” (a combination of polite demeaner and calm body movement), while men are free to be clumsy and unruly. Thailand has a reputation of being a country of superwomen.

Perhaps even more than women in other country, Thai women try extremely hard to be as pleasing as possible — and to be in control of everything. But the future doesn’t look encouraging for Thai women. Land is coming more and more under the control of big businesses. In rural areas, where women used to be able to grow food in the family plot of land and take it to sell in the local market, increasing numbers of women farmers find that they have no land on which to grow anything independently, and that in order to feed the family they must work as employees of big agrobusiness companies whose policy of seeking high profit from cheap and “docile” female labor is infamous all over the world. Men in the management of international business enterprises are keeping the situation as it is — because they profit from it. They keep female workers happy in recreation activities such as beauty contest and sport competition.

Recent statistics from Thailand show a large migration of rural women into such big cities as Bangkok, Chiengmai, Haadyai and Korat. The Younger ones turn to the service sectors in large numbers becoming bar-girls, coffee-shop girls, massage-parlor girls, hotel receptionists, and quite often prostitutes. The tourist industry works closely with the sex-related industry, providing the country with up to 11 or 12 percent of foreign earnings. Advertising firms have been using women as key attraction for male tourists from rich industrialized countries. The “reputation” of Thai “girls” is notorious in capitals of neighboring countries and in rich industrialized countries, a fact which many Thai women resent intensely.

To bring about a change in this alarming situation would require an attitude shift in the government and in big corporations. Women have to join and work with these two structures in large numbers in order to transform the situation from within. Feminist conciousness-raising is very much needed in Thailand, while members of the Women Lawyers’ Association, the Women Doctors’ Association, the National Council of Women, and the Association for the Promotion of the Status of Women have launched several campaigns to alert the public and government to the grave conditions of women.

Despite these challenges, Thai women do not see themselves as the helpless victims of male domination. They do not look on the men as having much power over their lives, seeing men as less mature and less responsible than they are because of how they were brought up. On the other hand, it is difficult for women to organized themselves as a group, because they are influenced by Buddhism, teaching them to be self-reliant and to look after themself as individuals.

Most Thai women prefer to manipulate the men than to negotiate with them. They don’t like, as a group or as individuals to engage in confrontation with the male establishment and structure whose sexist attitudes will take a long time to change. (For example, if some leading – widely noted – Thai women still respond to the polygynist tendencies of their men by choosing the minor wife – or wives – does this resolve or merely perpetuate the root problem?)

The main strategy that must be formulated by feminists in Thailand is one to eliminate the political and business exploitation of women by local and international firms and by commercial sex industry. But any strategy would have to aim not only at men but also at women in that a large number of women must change their own attitudes about themselves
— about trying to be superwomen taking care of everything in life to please the men. It’s time Thai women allow the men to grow up.

(Full version of this article was printed in 1984 in Sisterhood is Global: the International Women’s Movement Anthology, compiled and edited by Robin Morgan, Anchor Press/Double Day, New York), ISBN:0-385-17797-8.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Many of these books can be found online at places like www.alibris.com. Some might be reprinted a few times, and some might be impossible to find as they were limited to small edition printing.

 

• ARTICLE, REGIONAL PREPARATORY CONFERENCE FOR THE BEIJING 1995 WORLD CONFERENCE ON WOMEN, NGOS’PUBLICATION, 1996

• ARTICLE, THE SUCCESS OF THE MID-DECADE CONFERENCE ON WOMEN, THIRD WORLD PRESS, 1980

• THAILAND SECTION OF THE BOOK, SISTERHOOD IS GLOBAL, ANCHOR PRESS, DOUBLE DAY, NEW YORK 1984

• BOOK, CREATIVE WOMEN IN CHANGING SOCIETY-A QUEST FOR ALTERNATIVES, TRANSNATIONAL PUBLISHER, UNITED NATIONS TRAINING AND RESEARCH (1982)

• ARTICLE, ASSESSING PARENTAL ROLES AND CHILDREN’S NEEDS, WORLD EDUCATION PUBLICATION SPECIAL ISSUE ON THE INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF THE CHILD, 1979 AND UNDP NEWS

• CHILDREN’S PHOTOGRAPHIC BOOKS: GALONG, THE RIVER BOY OF THAILAND, AND KETUT, THE WOOD CARVER OF BALI, UNICEF, IN COLLABORATION WITH SIMON AND SCHUSTER, NEW YORK, 1977

• BOOK, EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY WITHIN AND AMONG NATIONS, CHAPTER ON COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES FOR IMPROVING OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN IN DEVELOPMENT, PRAEGER, NEW YORK, 1977

• BOOK, WOMEN AND WORLD DEVELOPMENT, CHAPTER ON LIBERATING AND EDUCATING WOMEN, PRAEGER, NEW YORK, 1976

• COMMUNICATION FOR SOCIAL CHANGE, ARTICLE IN THE JOURNAL OF YMCA, 1973

• MOTIVATION IN THE PROCESS OF CHANGE, ARTICLE IN THE BUSINESS IN THAILAND MAGAZINE, 1974

• CHANGING OF INDIVIDUAL ATTITUDES AND VALUES IN POPULATION AND FAMILY PLANNING, PROFESSIONAL PAPER OF THE EAST WEST CENTRE, UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII, 1975

• CHECKLIST FOR ASSISTING CHANGE, WHAT THE INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES SHOULD BE DOING, POPULI, JOURNAL OF UNFPA VOL.2 NO.2, 1975

• WOMEN, POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT, UNFPA POPULATION PROFILE BOOKLET NO. 7, 1977

• POPULATION AND MUTUAL SELF-RELIANCE, UNFPA PROFILE NO. 12, 1979, ON TECHNICAL COOPERATION AMONG DEVELOPING COUNTRIES.

MULTI-MEDIA MATERIALS:

• “ASIA FROM HERE TO WHERE? A DOCUMENTATY FILM FOR YOUTH AUDIENCE ON POPULATION, UNFPA/UNICEF

• “WHEN A MAN HUNGERS”, A DOCUMENTARY FILM ON THE BIHAR DROUGHT, UNICEF

• “NOT BY RICE ALONE”, FILM ON INDONESIA NUTRITION PROGRAMME, FAO/UNICEF

• “THE BOOK ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH”, A TEACHER TRAINING FILM ON AFGHANISTAN, UNESCO/UNICEF

• “THE BARRIO AWAKENS”, A FILM ON THE PHILIPPINES APPLIED NUTRITION PROGRAMME, FAO/UNICEF

• “THAILAND PUBLIC HEALTH”, FILM OF THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH, THAILAND

• “CHILDREN OF THAILAND”, CBC FILM, CANADA/UNICEF

• “A LIFE OF TASSANEE, A THAI PUBLIC HEALTH NURSE” A FILM BY NHK AND UNICEF

• ASIAN WOMEN IN DEVELOPMENT, A SLIDE-SET FOR TRAINING OF DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM AND PROJECT STAFF

• MOTIVATION AND TRAINING OF DEVELOPMENT WORKERS ON POPULATION PROBLEMS, SLIDE-SET

• TRAINING SLIDESET ON DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT COMMUNICATION

• URBAN SLUM RENEWAL IN BANGKOK, SLIDE SET

• RUBBER DEVELOPMENT IN THE SOUTH OF THAILAND, UN DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT COMMUNICATION SERVICE TRAINING SLIDES

• POPULATION AND STATUS OF WOMEN, SLIDE-SET

• PHOTO/ARTICLES ON UNICEF -ASSISTED CHILDREN AND YOUTH PROJECTS IN MYANMAR, THAILAND, AFGHANISTAN, INDIA, INDONESIA, THE PHILIPPINES, PAKISTAN, REPUBLIC OF KOREA