Women's Rights

Women hold an important role in the development at different levels: family, community and society. Much progress has been made on gender equality in Thailand since the turn of the millennium; the country’s 20th constitution lays down on paper the principle of non-discrimination and equal protection. Reality presents a contradicting picture, however, in implementation, values and cultural attitudes.

Domestic violence still occurs in Thai society and many take it as a private or family matter not to be meddled with. What’s more, women often do not get proper information on available protection and support mechanisms provided by the government and private sector.

ActionAid Thailand focuses on strengthening capacity, skills and knowledge of and empowering women and girls so that they can grow to the fullest of their capacity and confidence. This will enable them to design their own lives, live without fear of violence, and effectively participate in decision making that affects their lives and livelihoods. Through training and capacity building, we empower the women and girls to recognize their rights and capacity and be able to claim control over their bodies. We cooperate with local governments to create physical safety environments for women and girls and will collaborate with urban networks and youth for Safe Cities for Women campaign to create enabling environment for women and girls to live carefree in the communities.

Learn more about Safe Cities for Women >

In addition, after ActionAid Thailand began working on strengthening civil society roles in poverty alleviation in the deep southern provinces in 2014, we have continued to work with our partner Chumchonsattha Foundation to carry on the work in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat Provinces. The priority of the project is to strengthen women’s groups on economic empowerment, women’s rights, leadership and land rights, and to link up with the groups as networks in the deep southern provinces.

Land & Natural Resource Rights

As an organisation that take action on the basis of human rights, ActionAid Thailand acknowledges the issues a large number of small farmers and remote communities face, especially ones concerning their rights to access lands and natural resources.

We have worked with global organisations on short-term projects; and now, for four years, we have the support of the European Union and are working closely with partners in tackling the issues stated.

According to Land Development Department’s 2014 data, few Thais are able to own land. The proportion of landholding to the country’s population is striking: 60 percent of the people own only 4.69 percent of the land in total. Meanwhile, up to 7.5 million rai – 2.56 million acres – of land are left uncultivated or deserted.

The country’s land policy has weakened the rights of communities. This has not only rendered people in remote areas to have less land to build their lives on and thus compete for natural resources, but it also increasingly granted both the private and public sectors mining concessions. Governmental shifts as a result of the 2014 coup have ensured no certainty nor continuity in direction for development efforts; attempts from civil society organisations and people’s networks at land reforms will, more often than not, come to a halt when changes of the government occur.

Land is Life: the acquisition of rights to land and natural resources for the landless and land-poor is a project spearheaded by the Northern Development Foundation (NDF), Chumchom Thai Foundation (CTF) and ActionAid Thailand with a four-year funding support from the European Union, effective from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2021. The programme aims to establish close cooperation between civil society networks and organisations, landless or land-poor communities and government agencies in working on land rights issues and aiding communities in achieving stability and protecting their heritage and way of life in a sustainable way, which would subsequently reduce economic disparity in Thailand.

The project supports local movements, namely the People’s Movement for a Just Society (P-Move), Northern Farmers Network (NFN) and Community Network for Social and Political Reform (CSPR); and operates in four types of landless or land-poor communities in 16 provinces across the north, northeast and south of Thailand, including small farmers and fishermen’s communities, sea gypsy communities, ethnic minority communities in the highlands, and communities of stateless people.

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Education & Youth

Right to Education

Education is vital to reducing poverty and inequality in Thailand. The Thai education system provides children access to education until grade 12. However, there are serious concerns over the quality and equity of the education they receive at every level of the system.

In 2013, the government’s solution for improving the quality of education was to close and merge small schools with fewer than 60 students so that the remaining schools will have more resources in terms of funding per student and teachers. Meanwhile, the consequences of this policy on remote and marginalised communities are not taken into account. More than 200,000 students along with their families were affected; drop out numbers increased and it is likely that this is due to increased travelling expenses and safety fears – as children had to travel further from their village to get to school.

Today, the closure and merger policy remains a controversial subject both in Thailand and the international arena. And with grave quality concerns that remain in the education system, small schools still face the risk of being shut down were these concerns not redressed.

No matter their size, schools are at the heart of communities. We are working to improve the quality of education in small schools by enhancing teacher capacity and quality of classroom management; incorporating innovative approaches, local context and community participation to develop a curriculum that is tailored to the school; and strengthening school networks in different regions in order that they are empowered to influence policy change.

ActionAid Thailand also collaborates with partners and educational authorities, brings together different education groups and raises public awareness on the right to quality and inclusive education, and the right to participate in the education decision-making process and to monitor the government’s decentralisation process and resources.

Building an active networked civil society for quality education

From 2020-2023, ActionAid Thailand and partners, Thai Alternative Education Council Association (TAECA) and Thai Baan Association (TBA), with the support of the European Union, are working to build an active networked civil society to improve delivery and access to quality education. The four-year project titled ACCESS School aims to build capacity and engage civil society organisations in taking active roles in school governance in their communities through establishing partnership with local authorities and key ministerial personnel. This would lead to improved transparency, better quality of teaching and learning, and more responsive education service with an active learning environment.

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Youth engagement

Young people are potent agents of change. They have initiated many remarkable changes in the Thai cultural and political spheres. This spirit continues in the youth’s social concerns and involvement in different social issues, especially through active public advocacy whether online or offline.

ActionAid Thailand works with young people, providing them a platform to use their creativity, capabilities and talents to contribute to our campaigns for a fairer and more just society. Through our Activista training and participative learning initiatives, young people, ranging from university students to first and second-jobbers, are given the opportunity to better their understanding of various rights-based issues – from poverty, the right to education, women’s rights, land and natural resource rights to climate justice. This new generation of changemakers learn to develop and strengthen their capacity as campaigners and advocates, engaging in ActionAid Thailand’s work at both national and community levels.

See the latest updates on Education & Youth >

Driving the creation of pilot schools to shape 21st century learners

On July 17-19, 2018, Dr. Sarawut Sutawong, Chiang Rai Provincial Administrative Organization School Director, and his faculty conducted a training workshop for school leaders on employing Thinking Tools, held at the meeting room of Nan Province’s Primary Education Services Area Office 1.

The workshop was part of the collaboration between Nan’s small school directors’ association and the province’s Primary Education Services Area Office 1 who teamed up with ActionAid Thailand in driving the creation of pilot schools in order to shape 21st century learners. The event hosted 143 participants from 16 schools in Nan Province.

Next on our agenda is to promote the application of these Thinking Tools throughout the system, starting from the classroom. Initial response from existing pilot schools includes students’ improved analytical skills, their increased interest in learning, better classroom atmosphere, and, most importantly, successful academic performance, in that instructors no longer teach by a repetition approach or worry about assessment results, for progress manifests itself in students’ own achievements and development.

We strive to create further and continued impact to make Nan another small province, with its relatively smaller population, that produces as capable youth as those living in bigger provinces. And all this begins with making quality education equally available in all areas and accessible to everyone.

by Patchgorn Pattawipas
Youth and Education Program Officer