As an institution of higher education, the Faculty of Social Sciences is responsible for promoting knowledge and expertise in the area of Social Sciences and experts who have skills, experience, and interest in women’s issues, the Women’s Studies Program was established in 1986 to support study, research and data collection on women’s issues, particularly in Northern Thailand; to disseminate knowledge for the benefit of local communities; and to coordinate women’s development work with public and private institutions.
With the Seventh National Educational Development Plan (1992-1996) the status of the Women’s Studies Program was elevated to that of the Women’s Studies Center, a unit of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Since 1993, the Center has been located at the Women’s Studies Building, which was constructed with support from the Norway TV Campaign for Third World Women ’98 in coordination with the Norwegian Association of Women Jurists (NAWJ). The adjoining Rural Women’s Legal Training Building was constructed with support from the Norwegian Association of Women Jurists (NAWJ) and Frauan Stiftung of Germany, now a part of the Heinrich Boell Foundation.
The effects of economic and political development process on humanity are of great significance, particularly for women, who represent over half of the world’s population and are yet too often overlooked. The worldview of academics must be both broad and open in perspective and freedom. Thus Social Sciences, which addresses women’s issues directly, must at very least be empowered and as current as other disciplines.
In addressing the status and role of women on economic, social, and political levels, it is essential to possess a systematic and thorough analysis of the body of knowledge encompassing the Women’s Studies discipline. Equally important is the dissemination of this knowledge for the use of the community and it is the responsibility of academic institutions to see this through. The analysis and dissemination of knowledge is an on-going process requiring continuous commitment and strong political will.
Due to women’s movements around the globe, women’s studies have received increased attention in recent decades. The United Nations (UN) declared 1975 to 1985 as the International Decade of Women with the objectives of promoting gender equality, increasing women’s participation in development and the preservation of peace worldwide, and encouraging member nations to establish national women’s organizations. The Thai government responded by designating women as a special target group in the Fifth National Socio-Economic Development Plan (1982-1986), with the goal of increasing the role of women in economic, social, and political development.
Although the International Decade of Women has come and gone, the study of women’s issues is ongoing. Regardless of the era, the mission of the government is national development with consideration for the well being of all citizens, a process in which women play an important role. It is thus essential that the development of women continue, both on national, regional, and international levels.
The Women’s Studies Center is the institute aiming to encourage and broaden the horizon of academic works regarding to women’s issues. The Center is laying its foundation for social change and sexual equity encouragement. It is also beneficial for local community and country altogether.
The Center, in accordance with the interdisciplinary nature, aims to pursue the studies, researches, and data accumulated the problems related to women’s issues.
The Center, with the academic support, attempts to promote gender equity and the women participation in development in various levels such as in local community, Mekong Sub-Region and international sections.