Taking Thailand by Storm
By Marcy Driehaus
She is the daughter of a princess and has the heart and determination of a warrior. She’s living proof that wisdom doesn’t necessarily always come with age, but is rather something instilled inside of you, waiting to filter out. Her defiance and longing for change in her land makes her a suitable attribute to our women of the week. Her name is Yingluck Shinawatra, prime minister of Thailand.
Thailand’s fate was destined to change the day Yingluck Shinawatra was born on June 21, 1967. Growing up as the youngest of 9 children didn’t deter Shinawatra’s drive and charisma as she got older. The influence of politics had always been a prominent force in Shinawatra’s life due to her father’s ongoing involvement with the political world. Her father’s status as a political leader merited Shinawatra’s family as one of the most powerful and wealthiest families in Chiang Mai. With this power came the confidence and resources that Shinawatra needed to achieve greatness.
After moving on from her all-girls middle school, Regina Coeli College, Shinawatra attended Yupparaj College. From there, she studied at Chiang Mai University where she earned her undergrad degree in political science. She later earned her MA in public administration from Kentucky State University in 1991. After she had a good education and a couple of impressive degrees under her belt, Shinawatra’s career kicked off.
Shinawatra entered the workforce with an internship at a phone directory business called “Shinawatra Directories Co”. She steadily climbed the corporate ladder over the years, achieving progressively more powerful positions in different fields. Having held positions such as the director of procurement, the general manager of Rainbow Media, Deputy CEO of IBC, CEO of Advanced Info Service, Managing Director of SC Asset Co Ltd, secretary of the Thaicom Foundation, Shinawatra was well prepared for the workload she had in store for her in her future position as the prime minister of Thailand.
With the help from her father’s political experience, along her two degrees in politics, Shinawatra was a sound nominee for the Pheu Thai Party in the race for prime minister. Once earning this nomination, she began to campaign on a sturdy platform that included putting an end to poverty, national reconciliation, and tax reductions. After successfully convincing the Parliament that she was capable of the great things she promised to do as prime minister, she was elected as Thailand’s first ever female prime minister in August of 2011. Though the victory was sweet, many were quick to speculate her aptness for the position due to her inexperience in the political realm. When Shinawatra got wind of this criticism, she was quick to make it known in an interview with BBC that, “My family is a political family plus I have experience in business – I have been running a listed company for 20 years – so I will use the two competencies together to help Thailand to improve, especially in terms of the economy”.
As Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra has made it her goal to promote welfare for women and children. By initiating The Thai Women Development Fund in 2012, Shinawatra will be able to provide about 3.3 million U.S. dollars towards efforts benefiting women’s rights. By incorporating women’s welfare as a key point of her political agenda, Yingluck Shinawatra is a beacon of hope for women everywhere who have been deprived from strong representation in their government. Being in a position of such political power has really intensified Shinawatra’s efforts towards equality and a world with minimal violence. By emphasizing that “females are the symbols of nonviolence. Another thing I would say is that a female is more compromising. A female can talk with anyone easily,” Shinawatra is able to serves as a symbol of peace and hope for women everywhere. Ride on, Prime Minister Shinawatra.