• Published Date: 14/06/2023
  • by: UNDP

The Invisible Wall: Getting To Know the Ethnic Groups and Challenges of life Through “Ethnic Youth Dialogue”

If we talk about one unique group that most people don’t have a chance to meet or talk to that much,

an ethnic group may be one of the first ones that come to mind. But, why? Even though ethnic groups may not have a stand-out or different appearance from the majority of people in Thailand, they still have more limitations in their lives, in contrast to the modernity of this society. This dialogue will invite you to learn about the way of life and the obstacles in the lives of ethnic groups.

Ethnic youth in Thailand, which are ethnic minorities, face inequality and various obstacles in accessing the rights that should be obtained from being human in the first place, from discrimination to lack of educational opportunities, employment, and medical treatment rights. Prejudice is a major problem among ethnic youth in Thailand. Although the country is ethnically diverse, there is still discrimination against people who are different from the majority. Ethnic youths often face racism and issues in communication, especially in the workplace or in school.


The disappearance of culture

Ko (figure name), an Aka youth, shared her experience during the discussion that language differences may be a challenge for some ethnic minorities. Thai is the main language of the country, but some ethnic groups may not use Thai as their first language. This may make it difficult for them to communicate with other people, access education,  and other opportunities. She told us that when she was younger, she couldn’t speak fluent Thai at the time. She attended a Thai school, which was the beginning of her discrimination experience, whether it was from friends or teachers at the school, due to the fact that she couldn’t communicate properly in Thai. After that, she tried her best to communicate in Thai all the time, and until now, she can no longer communicate in her native language very well anymore.

This indicates the result of attempting to change their cultural identity to meet Thai social values. This has led to the disappearance of native languages and cultures in the community.


Inequality in education and employment is also a major issue for ethnic minorities. This may be related to the difficulty of the acquisition of Thai nationality. Ethnic minorities and some ethnic youth may not have access to education or job opportunities as much as Thai nationals, which may limit career opportunities and make it difficult for them to establish a successful life in the future. Therefore, their dreams have been limited.


When the distance prevents you from exercising your right to support policies or representatives you need

Linked to the problem of inequality in education, it leads to other obstacles in exercising fundamental rights. “Saeng” (figure name), an ethnic participant, said that the right to vote is  not universal. The village where he lives is almost on the mountain. So, the distance makes it difficult to exercise their rights to support policies or representatives of the country. Besides that, outsiders also take advantage of the fact that ethnic people have less knowledge of this kind of information for their own benefit. The government does not see the importance of a lot of issues such as the right to obtain Thai nationality. Some groups of people have lived in Thailand for a long time but have not acquired Thai citizenship. Despite being in the area of ​​Thailand, the community is far from the city and civilization. They still have to constantly fight for the right to citizenship because it is hard to access various welfare and services without it. 

Furthermore, there is a problem with unclear address information. Although the ethnic communities have been living in Thailand for a long time, the area is far away and close to the border, making it difficult to identify their identity. They have been questioned about being a citizen of other countries such as Myanmar or Laos, resulting in the non-recognition of nationality. Today, many ethnic youths still face this obstacle.


Alternative Treatments and Access to Public Health Services 

May (figure name), an Akha youth, shared with us that in her childhood, traditional ghost beliefs played a big role in her community. Even in Christian-dominated communities like her family, traditional beliefs were influenced. Some beliefs are influenced by her own experiences, she told us that when she was young, the wounds wouldn’t heal by modern methods, but after trying the science of beliefs and healing using dirt and earthworms in conjunction with tribal rituals, the wounds were healed.  Although in the present, there are public healthcare and health services under the welfare state. Some ethnic people may still choose traditional treatment over modern science. However, some did not have a choice, they still do not have access to public health services and have not received proper support. This is due to the lack of comprehensive access to fundamental rights and still waiting for further policy change.


It is undeniable that minorities in Thailand have to face various problems, whether inequality or the right to access education and medical treatment. These problems cannot be solved without creating a support network that can help guide and promote the system of services, along with the distribution of decentralizing basic rights. It is important to support access to rights and non-discrimination and try to push toward the next goal. There are also organizations and groups that are working to support ethnic youth in Thailand and are ready to support the rights to education, to help ethnic youths to work effectively and equally. By working together, we can create a more inclusive and supportive society for everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity

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  • Published Date:
  • by: UNDP

The Rainbow Stories: Learning the Way of Life through the Lens of LGBTI Youth

Did you know that Thailand still has a group of people who have not received equality or may not have the right to access what they deserve despite being a citizen of the same country?

Among these people, LGBT people are one of the groups that have been overlooked for their needs and are often denied assistance. Due to social bias that is not open to gender diversity and may not yet understand the vulnerability of LGBTI people, they have to struggle to stand up for themselves and find a way to advocate for their rights.


Through this experience-exchanging dialogue, we would like to invite everyone to learn more about LGBTI people and their way of life in this country. 


Thailand may be known for being an open country when it comes to LGBTI issues. Despite its reputation for being progressive in this matter, the reality is that being LGBTI still isn’t easy. LGBTI youth in Thailand face challenges that are unique and different from other identities, this can make life difficult and stressful for them.

“Different” appearances lead to discrimination

One of the biggest challenges faced by LGBTI youth in Thailand is discrimination. Despite Thailand’s reputation for being tolerant of LGBTIs more than any other country in Southeast Asia, discrimination against the LGBTI group persists. This can be expressed in various ways, from verbal abuse to physical violence. LGBTI people have a way of expressing themselves differently and may not fit the “gender standard” societal norms. Of course, there are many people who tolerate it, but there are also many who do not, which may lead to threats, bullying, and even violence. Sadly, this situation often occurs, especially when they openly express their true selves.

The obstacle that LGBTI youth in Thailand often have to face is a lack of support from family and friends. Family is very important in Thai culture. Many LGBTI youth encounter family rejection or denial when expressing their identity. This can lead to the feelings of loneliness and depression. It’s difficult to find friends who understand the same things. In addition, many LGBTI youth may not have a support network to understand what they are experiencing and what they really need.



Policies that do not protect against discrimination is an indirect violence 

A major challenge remains legal protection for LGBTI people. In Thailand, there are no anti-discrimination laws that specifically protect LGBTI people, meaning LGBTI youths may be subject to discrimination in housing, employment, and education without being able to seek any legal assistance. Of course, love is not against the law, but there are still no anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBTI people, nor is there a law that allows same sex marriage or civil partnership registration.

In addition, an important issue exchanged in this dialogue is the lack of remedial measures for victims of violence due to gender identity. Thailand is another country that values the norm of men and women. However, it ignores the importance of helping those whose gender identity does not meet the main social identity standards. Although LGBTI often experiences sexual violence, the importance of treating such traumatized experiences is often overlooked.


These issues can be illustrated that people often disregard the fundamental rights of LGBTI people. One of the obstacles of being a transgender person is having to face many obstacles, such as undergoing gender affirming surgery or hormonal treatment. The expenditures for this matter are currently not supported by the government.


Thai Society’s Understanding of Gender Diversity

Finally, in the current society, Thailand still lacks awareness and understanding about LGBTI issues, which may lead to misunderstandings, stereotypes, and generalizations of what being LGBTI really is. This makes it difficult for young people to find the right information and support. Schools do not always provide support, nor do they always have resources. This may make LGBTI youth feel unsafe and difficult to stay in school. The lack of such education also makes it difficult for schools to provide safe spaces or appropriate resources and support for LGBTI students.

In summary, Thai LGBTQ youth face a series of challenges, including discrimination, lack of support from family and friends, lack of legal protection, and education issues. Despite the progress of support for all LGBTQ citizens in Thailand, there is still a long way to go to transform into a society free from discrimination and prejudice. It is important that policymakers, educators, and the entire society must strive together to create a more accessible environment for all young people. Society must consider and take gender diversity factors into account to create a society that truly benefits all groups.

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  • Published Date:
  • by: UNDP

Unheard Voices: Untold Stories of Muslim Youth Through Youth Dialogue

Imagine a Muslim family using taxi services, dressed in traditional clothing, and receiving strange and uncomfortable expressions from the driver. But family members are not really surprised either, as they are used to being stared at and having to explain their culture and values, as a Muslim family living in a country where Muslims are the minority.

Because the stories of the Muslim community may have never been discussed in mainstream education, mainstream media, and other aspects. Therefore, sometimes social services or activities in Thailand may not be aligned with their religious practices, resulting in their lack of participation in society. Therefore, we invite you to communicate their way of life from their perspective through a youth dialogue called ‘Leave No One Behind’. This is a dialogue between young people and various identity groups, including Muslims.


The problems and obstacles that Muslim youth in Thailand have to face are caused by the complex social and political issues of the country. Most Muslims in Thailand live in the southern provinces in Thailand, and although they are Thai, their culture and religious practices are different from most Buddhist populations. This may lead to the feeling of being left out of Muslim youth that we never thought of. Today, we invite you to explore the problems faced by Thai Muslim youth from this dialogue.


Social biases faced by Muslims

The first major topic of conversation during the dialogue is social prejudice. Muslim youth in Thailand face discrimination and prejudice because of their religious and cultural practices. When taking time to discuss the obstacles and challenges of being a Muslim, this seems to be a common experience among Thai Muslims. It can appear in the form of social exclusion and stereotypes. Negative attitudes towards them may make it difficult for Muslim youth to fully participate in society. This is due to a lack of awareness and education about the Muslim population in Thailand. This may lead to the fear of initiating the conversations that would help with the understanding among religions. Because of this, many Muslims have to try very hard to work together through media and community engagement projects to address these issues.

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When “Home” is not a safe place

When asked about the main obstacles in life, there is always one story that has been brought up by Muslim people in the South. The three southern border provinces of Thailand have been faced with political instability and violence for many years. This has created a sense of danger and fear among Muslim youth in the South, thus limiting their future opportunities. To fix this problem, more conversations need to be initiated on this issue. Peacebuilding and conflict resolution initiatives should be established. This may include initiatives that promote dialogue and understanding between communities,  as well as projects addressing the causes of conflict such as poverty, and inequality. and discrimination Muslim youth in Thailand often experience economic disadvantage due to inequality in the community. This may make it difficult for them to find work or access economic opportunities. This could have a long-term effect on their future. This is the main point raised in the conversation all the time.


Parents of most Muslim youth in the southern region do not encourage their children to go to school outside the province due to the violence that is happening, resulting in them choosing to keep their children at home to help take care of each other’s safety. This is mostly caused by safety concerns and low income due to limited career opportunities. It is directly linked to political instability in the area, which is still the main obstacle that is extremely difficult to solve.


Access to education is an ongoing challenge for Muslim youth in Thailand, especially in the southern provinces. Education systems in these areas are often underfunded and understaffed. This results in limited resources and facilities. Moreover, Muslim youth that attend schools with a Buddhist majority may face discrimination and prejudice from teachers and classmates, which makes it difficult for them to adjust to the school environment.. To fix this problem, more investment in education in southern provinces is needed. This may include building new schools, hiring more teachers, and providing resources and support to students. In addition, there is a need for greater awareness and education about the importance of understanding for all members of society, regardless of their background or religion.


An environment that is suitable for adaptation is also necessary. More and more Muslim youth want to study in Bangkok for a better quality of education. But instead faced problems caused by the overlook of religious beliefs, such as finding halal food. There are few or no halal food restaurants provided in educational institutions. This is another reason why young Muslims may feel that they are not part of society and are being ignored.

Through this dialogue, we learn and understand more about the lifestyle and practices of the Muslim population, including the situation of Muslims in the three southern border provinces. As Thai Muslim youth face challenges that we may not have anticipated, due to unfamiliarity with religious practices and the complex social and political landscape of the country, it is necessary to address these challenges. More investment is needed in education, economic development, and peace initiatives.

It is important that solving this problem is the responsibility of all religions. It is necessary to raise awareness and education about the Muslim community in Thailand to combat discrimination and prejudice. By working together, we can create a more inclusive and equal society for all members of the community.

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  • Published Date:
  • by: UNDP

Different, Not Less: Pushing the Limits Through Learning the Life Experiences of Youth with Disabilities

Have you ever thought about how we all have different abilities?

Some people run very fast, some sing well, and some have cool ideas for changing the world. However, when we talk about people with disabilities, sometimes we forget that they are not different from people without disabilities. We may not be aware of their abilities, as we may never understand identities that are different from those we are familiar with.


In this blog, we will discuss the lifestyle of young people with disabilities and the obstacles they face through a youth dialogue with people with disabilities and other identity groups, in order to understand problems and solutions to help them receive the equality they deserve.

Disability is a major issue affecting many people worldwide, especially Thai youth. Disability is not necessarily a physical disability, mental disability is also considered a disability. According to the 2017 Disability Survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics, there were approximately 140,000 children with disabilities. Most of them come from low-income families, with over 38% of people not in the education system, 27% lack of access to health promotion services, and 4% of people unable to access medical services during illness. Nearly half are not registered with the government and do not receive monthly disability living allowances.

Thai people with disabilities face challenges that may have a significant impact on accessing resources and opportunities. These challenges are particularly severe in societies where physical performance is highly valued and the needs of people with disabilities are often overlooked.

One of the challenges faced by people with disabilities in Thailand is discrimination and social stigma. Despite efforts to increase awareness and understanding of disability, many people with disabilities also face social and economic biases and discrimination, which may lead to difficulties in receiving education, employment, and healthcare, including a lack of government and civil society representation.


Challenges in Accessing Education and Training Opportunities 

Ja (figure name), a mobility-impaired person in the group, shared her high school experience. When she was in high school, she attended a school without an elevator, making the travel to study in each lesson very difficult and tiring. Many schools and universities do not have spaces for students with disabilities, this may limit their ability to access basic education. This can lead to limited employment opportunities and diminished earning potential. This could have a profound impact on the quality of life of people with disabilities. In addition, people with disabilities in Thailand face challenges in accessing healthcare services. Many medical facilities are not equipped to provide the necessary accommodations for people with disabilities, this may limit their ability to access treatment and care and lead to worse health and lower quality of life.


In addition, young people with disabilities in Thailand face challenges due to the lack of technology and equipment. Many young people with disabilities need technology and equipment to help them with their daily lives, such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, and communication devices. “Chak” (figure name), one of the blind people in the conversation, said that these devices can be expensive and difficult to access, especially for rural residents or low-income families. Their income is not enough to buy these things. This will limit their ability to access education, employment, and other opportunities greatly.


The challenge of preventing people with disabilities from participating in social activities

Another challenge faced by young people with disabilities in Thailand is the lack of public transportation. Although there are newly invented applications to help alleviate the difficulties of using public transportation such as Viabus, most public transportation systems in Thailand are still not designed for people with disabilities, which may limit their ability to travel and receive education, independent Employment, and medical services. This may lead to people with disabilities having to rely on family members or caregivers for transportation, further limiting their independence and social opportunities. Many participants shared similar experiences where their family members did not encourage traveling alone because they were concerned about safety.

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In terms of hobbies and recreational activities, since young people with disabilities may still face challenges in accessing information and communication technology, this may limit their ability to access information and resources, as well as participation in online learning and socializing. Many websites and digital platforms are not designed for people with disabilities, increasing more limitations of access to these technologies. “Jin”(figure name), a blind person, told us about how she also wants to do online shopping like a person without disabilities. However, it is nearly impossible, because most applications or online shopping websites do not design or provide screen-reader programs for visually impaired people. Even though it seems like a minor problem, this creates social divisions, a lack of opportunities, and what a human being deserves.


Challenges in accessing legal services and information

Finally, what we have learned from youth with disabilities in this dialogue is that they have faced difficulties in obtaining legal services and information. Many of them are not aware of their rights and their legal protection, which may make it difficult for them to obtain legal services and maintain their rights. In addition, many organizations that support people with disabilities are located in urban areas, which may make it difficult for low-income and rural disabled youth to obtain these services. To face the difficulty of these challenges, relevant governments and civil society must work together to promote the rights and inclusiveness of people with disabilities, this might involve amending laws and policies to ensure a more inclusive environment and protect them from discrimination. This includes raising awareness and promoting understanding of a more accepting society for people with disabilities.


The voices of people with disabilities and their stories allow us to better understand their daily life, dreams, and needs. Their needs are not different from people without disabilities, they hope to have a good quality of life and an atmosphere that allows them to achieve their wishes and dreams. The existing services and benefits may meet the needs of a large population. However, if we understand the specific circumstances of people with disabilities, we can design services that are accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.

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