Monday, February 23, 2009

Portrait of a female TAO chief

On the website on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in South-East Asia is a portrait of Siriporn Panyasen (ศิริพร ปัญญาเสน), the head officer of the TAO Pichai, Mueang Lampang district, Lampang province.

Siriporn started with volunteer community work at age 19, additionally to her normal work. This volunteer work after some time made her a member of the village council and later she became assistant village headman. Next she became involved in the next-higher level, rising slowly in the subdistrcit (tambon) administration up to become assistant subdistrict headman.

In 1996, the Tambon administrative organization (TAO) in Phichai was established, and Siriporn became the head of the TAO. According to the article, which was published in May 2008, this happened 10 years ago. As the normal term of the TAO council is 5 years, this means she had to run for reelection in 2008. I don't know if she succeeded or not. I wonder a bit why she was eligible for reelection at all, I read somewhere that for several posts a maximum of two terms is allowed. Either the TAO chiefs don't fall under this rule, or she was allowed a third term because for the first one she was elected by the council, while since 2003 the TAO chief is directly elected.

As I browse the websites of TAO occasionally, these often show the official photos of all the staff. Women are usually present there, but usually only at the lower posts. It's a pity that article does not mention how many women currently are TAO chiefs (or Tambon headmen, or village headmen), but though Siriporn is probably not the only one, her background from a poor family as well as her activities to motivate more women to take an active role in politics makes her a notable TAO chief.

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