Asian women and politics: The family connection
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Asian women and politics: The family connection

The region is still sexist enough to stifle the rise of women on their own, writes Asia Sentinel’s Barry Wain

In terms of advancing the participation of women in politics, the election of Yingluck Shinawatra as prime minister of Thailand is a highly qualified achievement.

Yingluck, of course, is Thailand’s first woman premier. It’s a particular distinction in what has been a male-dominated domain, given an extra hard edge by the regular intervention of a politicized military.


Yingluck Shinawatra. Pic: AP.

Unfortunately for the progression of women in Asian political life, she continues what has become almost a tradition in the region. The women who have risen to the top have all done so with family connections.

As nearly everybody who has ever heard the name Yingluck knows she is the sister of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives in exile after being ousted in an army coup in 2006.

For a political neophyte who was almost unknown in Thailand a few months ago, Yingluck, 44, performed impressively on the campaign trail and during the process of her nomination by parliament, which was approved by the king last week.

As she settles into the job with her new cabinet, however, she faces an enormous challenge to her credibility. She is widely seen as a front for Thaksin, who is suspected of calling the shots from his home in Dubai.