By Maxmilian Wechsler
Growing power of female diplomats
TRADITIONALLY the diplomatic profession has been dominated by men, but there have always been notable exceptions. These include Golda Meir, who was made foreign minister of Israel in 1956 before going on to become prime minister. In recent years there’s been a definite trend toward gender balance in international diplomacy. For example, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all appointed women to the highest diplomatic position in the United States, that of secretary of state.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), 14 women are currently residing in Thailand as ambassadors for their respective countries. As of this writing, ten more women are credited as either nonresident ambassadors or non-resident high commissioners for their countries’ missions to Thailand, although the exact number tends to change fairly often.
I have met all 14 ambassadors now residing in Bangkok at national day receptions or other functions, and I can say that without exception they are hard-working and highly capable diplomats. The Dean of the Bangkok diplomatic corps is presently the Singaporean ambassador, Her Excellency Mrs Chua Siew San. The MFA website gives the date she commenced her post in Bangkok as March 23, 2012. There are 78 embassies in Bangkok, employing close to 1,300 diplomats, officials and military officers who are registered with the MFA. More than 350 of these are women, holding positions including minister and deputy head of mission, first secretary and deputy head of mission, minister-counselor, defence attaché, deputy defence attaché, counselor, first, second or third secretary, attaché, assistant attaché, consul and vice-consul. About 100 women are attached to the US embassy, which is the biggest mission in Thailand; the second biggest is mainland China with about 30 women.
Around 700 spouses of diplomats and officials, mostly women, assigned to embassies in Bangkok, are also registered with the MFA. A great many of these are anything but stay-at-home wives and in fact play integral roles in their respective countries’ missions to Thailand.
There could be more women replacing at least 14 ambassadors, including one woman, who are at the end of their assignments here and either already gone or departing soon. The list includes the ambassadors of Australia, Bangladesh, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Hungary, Luxembourg, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the United States.
Out of 15 consulate-general offices representing 13 countries in Thailand, only the US Consulate-General in Chiang Mai has a woman in charge. In all, the 15 consulates employ close to 100 people, and nearly a third are women.
Among the 115 consulates representing 83 countries headed by an honorary consul (20 countries have more than one consulate here), 22 have placed women in charge, most of them Thai nationals. Cities hosting consulates in Thailand are Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Pattaya, Khon Kaen, Phetchaburi, Phuket, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Rayong, Songkhla and Surat Thani.
Ambassadors in Thailand
Her Excellency Mrs Maria
Alicia Cuzzoni de Sonschein
began her term in
H.E. Mrs Eva Hager began her term in
H.E. Mrs Saida Muna Tasneem began her term in December 2014.
H.E. Mrs Ana Lucy Gentil Cabral Petersen began her term in March 2018.
H.E. Ms Donica Pottie began her term in September 2016.
H.E. Mrs Laila Ahmed
Bahaaeldin began her term in March 2018.
H.E. Satu Suikkari-Kleven
began her term in
H.E.Ms Raushan Yesbulatova
began her term in
H.E. Mrs Maria del Carmen
Martinez Arosemena began
her term in May 2015.
H.E. Mrs Mary Jo A.
her term in July 2015.
H.E. Mrs Chua Siew San
(Dean of Diplomatic Corps)
began her term in March 2012.
H.E. Mrs Kshenuka Dhireni
Senewiratne began her term
in August 2015.
H.E. Mrs Sanaa Hamad
Alawad Gourafi began her
term in June 2017.
H.E. Mrs Evren Dagdelen
Agkün began her term in
Non-Resident Ambassadors and High Commissioners
H.E. Ms Akua Sekyiwa Ahenkora is assigned to High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
H.E. Ángela María de Lourdes Chávez-Bietti is assigned to Guatemalan Embassy in Tokyo, Japan.
H.E. Ms Youngor Telewoda
is assigned to the Liberian Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. She
began her term in November 2012
H.E. Ms Ina Marciulionyté is assigned to the Lithuanian Embassy in Beijing, PRC. She began her term in September 2016.
H.E. Ms Mireille Mialy
Rakotomalala is assigned to
the Madagascar Embassy in
H.E. Ms Anne Namakau
Mutelo is assigned to the Namibian High Commission
in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
H.E. Miss Venetia Sebudandi
is assigned to the Rwandan
Embassy in Tokyo, Japan.
H.E. Ms Hinauri Petana is
assigned to the Samoan High
Commission in Canberra, Australia.
H.E. Ms Jessica Gasperoni
is assigned to the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, San Marino.
She began her term
in March 2013.
Her Royal Highness
Princess Angelika Latufuipeka
Tuku’aho is assigned to the Tongan High Commission in Canberra, Australia. She began her term in August 2016.
H.E. Ms Grace Akello
is assigned to the High
Commission in New Delhi, India.
H.E. Mrs Elsa Nury Bauzán
Benzano is assigned to the
Uruguay Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She began her term in July 2018.
Consul-General in Thailand
Consulates (Honorary) in Thailand
Ms Heather Reid began her
assignment in Surat Thani in
Mrs Wanida Hongyok began
her assignment in Phuket in
Ms Koranun Sukonritikorn began her assignment in Bangkok in October 2016.
Mrs Jiratha Thavornvongwongse began her assignment in Phuket in May 2012.
Mrs Nantana Wongsatayanont began her assignment in Phuket
in October 2014.
Mrs Anne-Marie Toudic began her assignment in Prachuap Khiri Khan in October 2017.
Mrs Anette Jimenez Hochstetter began her assignment in Phuket
in May 2014.
Dr Sicha Singsomboon began her assignment in Bangkok in December 2006.
Mrs Helene Fallon-Wood began her assignment in Phuket in February 2006.
Mrs Nualphan Lamsam began her assignment in Bangkok in January 2015.
Ms Vichuda Rattanapian began her assignment in Bangkok in August 2016.
Dr Nalinee Taveesin began her assignment in Bangkok in December 2004.
Mrs Pranee Sakulpipatana began her assignment in Phuket in December 2013.
Mrs Pornphan Sittichaivijit began her assignment in Phuket in June 2009.
ML Preeyapun Sridhavat began her assignment in Chiang Mai in September 2017.
Mrs Panga Vathanakul began her assignment in Pattaya in December 2003.
Mrs Phatra Putipanpong began her assignment in Bangkok in March 2012.
Miss Panpilai Baiyoke began her assignment in Bangkok in December 2007.
Mrs Supajee Nilubol began her assignment in Chiang Mai in March 2006.
Mrs Andrea Eva Kotas Tammathin began her assignment in Phuket in January 2012.
Ms Bang-on Jansanthia began her assignment in Pattaya in January 2015.
Mrs Netra Ruthaiyanont began her assignment in Bangkok in September 2007.