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Thailand: Muslim Women's academy aims for leadership

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Bangkok: A leadership academy for Muslim women launched at Government House yesterday (December 11, 2012) is aimed at preparing women to take on more prominent roles in the troubled region.

The academy was developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra presided over its launch yesterday.

UNDP resident representative Luc Stevens said the programme supports empowering Muslim women in 14 southern provinces.

Women chosen for the programme would be taught in workshops run by the UN, with three to five women drawn from each province.

He hopes to achieve two goals under the three-year project.

"We want to help them become stronger actors in general affairs and empower them in leadership, not only in the political field but business management as well," Mr Stevens said.
Mirantee Maerah, 51, a designated leader from Narathiwat, said the women were already working to support their families and communities but they are in need of further support and understanding.

This project as well as the government's women fund should help boost their confidence, she said.

Nusana Pakdee, 40, a member of a team from Ranong, said she believed the project would benefit women leaders in the deep South.

"Women in the upper South are engaged with mainstream socio-economic development but those in the deep South do not have as many opportunities and abilities," Ms Nusana said.
Ms Yingluck said the academy project would complement the government's policy of empowering women.

Of about 7,000 political positions in villages and towns across Thailand, women hold just 4%.
In parliament, women make up just 16% of the membership, although they represent more than half of Thailand's population. There is only one Muslim female MP.

Women hold just a small fraction of executive positions in local, village and tambon administrations as well, the UNDP said.

(Courtesy: Bangkok Post)
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