Women in Asia continue to experience massive structural disadvantages, from early childhood education through their retirement from work – if they wanted and were allowed to work – and into their older age. It is mainly women who are exploited as cheap labour in Asia’s export industries and low-skill sectors, especially agriculture, textiles and the footwear and electronic industries. They are paid subsistence wages and experience increasing precariousness of their working as well as living conditions.
In Thailand too, the world of work is changing fast. Issues of technological innovation, green growth, ageing society, migrant labor and policy responses, like the “20 Years National Strategy and the Thailand 4.0 strategy” are widely debated.
The labour structure in Thailand at present is characterized by nearly full employment while facing a shortage of labour. Although the labour force participation gap between men and women is not significant, there is gender segregation by employment sectors, with a gender wage gap.
There appear to be no measures to address gender segregation and education and training in the labour market. Without directly responding to the gender issues, it is likely that newly promoted priority industries will not benefit women in jobs at risk of being automated. And women workers, especially in electronics, agriculture, the food industry and tourism, are likely to be by-passed by any positive impact of Thailand 4.0.
The analysis of Dr Romyen Kosaikanont, lecturer and gender expert at the School of Management, Mae Fah Luang University, enables us to understand better the concerns of Thailand’s women and highlights possible interventions.
This paper is part of the regional project "Women and the future of work in Asia". With insights from distinguished researchers in nine Asian countries, FES and its partners aim to further promote gender equality in the world of work, with emphasis on enhancing women’s participation in public and political life and promoting decent work for all along with gender-just and human-centric economic models.
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