Key Achievements of the CEDAW SEAP Phase II Programme in Thailand
UN Women contributed to enhance skills and knowledge for Thai CSOs on WHR-based legislative analysis drafting and advocacy through exchange and networking. As a result, a women’s legislative advocacy network has been formed, and also establishing a women’s legislative agenda, reviewing legislative proposals, and drafting position papers on pending bill (GE Bill.) Also, in partnership with LRCT to draft an alternate GE Bill with received inputs from WHR activists and judges that aims to protect LGBT against gender discrimination, GBV, sexual harassment and addressed groups that require a special attention, including tribal women, women with disabilities, pregnant women, women living with HIV and single mothers, resulting to a submission position paper by LRCT to the Cabinet on draft revisions to the Penal Code regarding sexual abuse/sexual crimes and the violation of child rights, and on the women empowerment fund.
UN Women supported evidence based documentation through life stories of five tribal women from Lahoo, Hmong, Karen, Palong and Mien tribes, in oreder to provide recommendations for improvement of strategic legal frameworks to better protect the rights of tribal women and used in legislative advocacy for the GE Bill.
As a result of a sustained advocacy by UN Women, LRCT adopted the promotion of gender equaity, rule of law and good governance as one of LRCT eight strategies for eradicating disparity and creating social justice and equality, also endorsed recommendations proposed by the Committee on Amendment and Development for Gender Responsive Legislation on the 4-year LRCT Strategic Plan (2013-2016) for Promotion of Network Participation and Development.
373 participants benefitted from exchange and networking events held throughout the country to raise awareness and gather information on the WHR situation in different regions and among different groups including Malay Muslim women, tribal women, women laborers, and trafficked women.
UN Women supported legislative advocacy efforts through training on WHR-based legislative analysis, drafting and advocacy for a women’s legislative network in order to set the women’s legislative agenda, drafting/reviewing legislative proposals, and drafting position papers on GE Bill, and constitution drafting using a WHR, CEDAW principles, and gender lens.
Development/drafting of Operation Guidelines for Human Rights Protection and promotion on access to justice for Muslim women in southern border provinces.
The programme has supported the promulgation of the 2015 Gender Equality Law, inclusion of gender provisions in the draft Constitution of 2015 , raised visibility and addressed among key political stakeholders the issue of access to justice for Muslim Women in the Deep South, supported institutional mechanism for Access to Justice for Women in the Juvenile court, supported development of monitoring indicators for CEDAW implementation and created a space for women’s CSOs to hold the government accountable in the inter-governmental process.
Key Achievements per Outcome (CEDAW Prodoc Outcomes)
Outcome 1: Increased knowledge and skills to apply CEDAW compliance in the development and monitoring of new and revised legislative frameworks.
The Gender Equality Law
As a result of UN Women’s support and sustained advocacy, the Gender Equality Law was approved by the National Assembly in January 2015 and announced in the Royal Gazette on 8 March 2015 to be effective after 180 days.
UN Women has advocated for the CEDAW-compliant throughout the years. UN Women supported the LRCT to present recommendations on the GEL to the Parliament and the Government, as well as supported LRCT to draft the GEL in 2013. UN Women also supported consultations and fora for the women’s groups to provide inputs to the GEL. Through UN Women’s advocacy and partnerships with the Department of Women’s Affairs and Family Development, LRCT and the women’s movements, the following achievements were made in attempts to improve the draft submitted to the National Assembly.
The Draft Constitution 2015
UN Women has advocated for gender sensitive provisions in the draft Constitution since 2014. The work continues in 2015 in partnership with the WeMove Network and the Women Reform Network (consisting of core women’s NGOs and gender advocates), the Law Reform Commission of Thailand, and the Department of Women’s Affairs and Family Development.
As a result of UN Women’s support, the Law Reform Commission of Thailand set up a Sub-committee on Gender Equality. In addition, as a result of UN Women’s support and sustained advocacy, the Law Reform Commission of Thailand (LRCT) adopted the promotion of gender equality, rule of law, and good governance as one of the LRCT eight strategies for eradicating disparity and creating social justice and equality, and conducted capacity development programme on gender sensitization for LRCT staff, mandated to provide legal recommendations to the Parliament and the Government.
With UN Women’s support, there is an institutional mechanism, i.e. LRCT, which addresses the plural legal system in Thailand under which context women fact discrimination. UN Women supported evidence based documentation through life stories of tribal women, research on plural legal system practiced amongst hilltribes in the North and Muslim in the three southernmost provinces. Based on the research findings, LRCT will prepare recommendations for legal review/reform amongst related agencies. Similar recommendations from LRCT are being prepared for domestic violence cases, based on research on access to justice for women subject to domestic violence, supported by UN Women.
Outcome 2: Increased awareness among formal and informal justice system actors of CEDAW commitments.
Protection of Women’s Human Rights and Access to Justice for Muslim Women in the Three Southern Border Provinces
Since 1946, Thai law has specified that in the Southern Provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala and Satun, in the determination of civil cases concerning family and inheritance matters, and where both parties are Muslim, Courts of first-instance shall apply Islamic family and inheritance law, instead of the relevant provisions of the Thai Civil and Commercial Code. It establishes a system whereby Datoh Justices join the Court of First Instance for consideration and determination of the case and provide the Court with an interpretation of relevant Islamic principles and their application to an interpretation of relevant Islamic principles, rather than circumstances at hand. As a result, Islamic law principles, rather than those in the Thai Civil & Commercial Code, apply in relation to matters such as marriage, divorce, determinations of personal status and inheritance. In a patriarchic context of interpretation of the Islamic principles, women in the Deep South have reported discrimination, violation of rights and lack of access to justice, including in domestic violence and early marriage.
For the first time in Thailand in 2015, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, in partnership with women’s CSOs, with UN Women’s technical and financial support, have reached out to the Islamic Council of Thailand, in an attempt to develop a joint guidelines for the protection of women’s human rights and access to justice for the Muslim women in the three southern border provinces. Space was opened up for discussion on access to justice of the Muslim women in the three southern border provinces in the context of Islam as a result of the project. The draft guidelines together with a list of policy recommendations were developed based on consultations with approximately 200 women and service providers in the field, the process of which is in itself an empowerment and capacity development process for the women and service providers on women’s human rights and access to justice. The draft guidelines were presented to policy makers in a national seminar in April 2015.
Protection of Women’s Human Rights by the Court/Judiciary
As a result of UN Women’s support and advocacy, the Family and Juvenile Court has agreed to develop the Standard Operating Procedures on the Protection of Women. Case studies have been developed as background for the SOP. Concurrently, the Office of the Judiciary has agreed to integrate women’s human rights into its capacity development programme for assistant judges.
Outcome 3: Strengthened monitoring and accountability mechanisms for implementation of CEDAW commitments.
Development of CEDAW Indicators and Capacity Development for Rolling-out
With UN Women’s partnership, Thailand is developing monitoring indicators for the implementation of CEDAW as well as integrating gender perspectives into the monitoring indicators of all other eight human rights treaties that Thailand is developing.
Thailand has ratified seven of the nine core international treaties. As an attempt to monitor implementation of Thailand’s obligation to the international human rights treaties, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand is developing monitoring indicators for all nine core human rights treaties, including CEDAW indicators. UN Women not only supported finalization of the CEDAW indicators, but also brokered space for women’s NGOs and gender advocates to provide inputs to indicators of all nine treaties through organization of consultations, thus promoting integration of gender equality perspectives into all indicator sets. The indicators are now being finalized.
UN Women also supported rolling out of the CEDAW indicators, with the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, and with the Department of Women’s Affairs and Family Development (DWF).
In March 2015, 30 NHRCT staff members were equipped with knowledge and understanding on CEDAW nad how to apply its principles as well as the CEDAW monitoring indicators in their work, with a particular focus on advancing human rights protection in businesses. This is an avant-garde area in the sense that it is the first time that the NHRCT targets monitoring of human rights protection and violations in non-state actors, i.e. the private sector and businesses, in the context of women’s human rights and CEDAW.
With support from UN Women, DWF is also working on the utilization of the CEDAW indicators as a tool for ministerial gender focal points to develop their ministerial plan on gender equality. The National Commission of the Policy and Strategy on the Status of Women, chaired by the Prime Minister, is the highest policy making and coordination body on gender equality and women’s rights in Thailand. The Commission has recently approved setting up of a sub-committee to accelerate and improve the work of ministerial gender focal points that will be required to develop a ministerial plan on gender equality. The CEDAW indicators will be used as an accountability mechanism at this central stage of policy making and monitoring for Thailand, and UN Women is playing a leading support role in this.
Support to the CEDAW Reporting Process
UN Women has been successful in brokering space for women’s CSOs to hold the government accountable in the inter-governmental process, notably in the CEDAW Reporting Process which connected seamlessly to the more recent process of the Beijing+20 Review Process. The women’s CSO have had space to voice their concerns and recommendations in these inter-governmental processes, the process of which is also their empowerment process. Women’s NGO network has strengthened capacity to monitor and report on CEDAW, as a result of UN Women’s support to consultations and preparation for the CEDAW Alternative Report. In 2014, in particular, two consultations were held for over 100 women from all regions in Thailand, including marginalized women (women living with HIV, indigenous women hill tribe women in the North and Muslim women from the Deep South, women migrants, and domestic workers) to hear their views and inputs for the finalization of the Alternative Report expected in 2015 in alignment with final Government report submitted for approval by the Cabinet, and also for grassroots women leaders to have a better understanding of CEDAW and the monitoring of its implementation.