The SIGI 2023 profile for Thailand provides a comprehensive overview of the state of gender equality in the country, as measured by the OECD’s Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI).1 The fifth edition of the SIGI, released in 2023, assesses 140 countries based on the level of gender-based discrimination in their social institutions. These discriminatory social institutions encompass both formal and informal laws, as well as social norms and practices that restrict women’s and girls’ access to rights, justice, empowerment opportunities and resources, thereby undermining their agency and authority.

In 2023, Thailand obtained a SIGI score of 33, denoting medium levels of discrimination, compared to an average score of 39 in Southeast Asia, denoting medium levels of discrimination, and a world average score of 29.2 The country obtained a score of 47 in the “Restricted civil liberties” dimension, followed by “Discrimination in the family” (39), “Restricted access to productive and financial resources” (22) and “Restricted physical integrity” (20).

The legal system of Thailand is based on civil law, with some roots tracing back to the ancient Hindu Code of Manu, which was modified to conform to local custom (University of Melbourne, 2023[2]). However, Section 3 of the Act on the Application of Islamic Law in Areas of Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala and Satun allows the practice of Sharia as a special legal process outside the national Civil Code for Muslim residents of the four southernmost provinces of the country, near the Malaysian border (Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala, and Satun Changwat) (Kingdom of Thailand, 1946[3]; United States Department of State, 2022[4]). In these regions and in Courts of first instance, when both parties are Muslims, Islamic law pertaining to family and succession takes precedence over the provisions of the Civil and Commercial Code concerning these matters.

Section 27 of the Constitution of Thailand recognises and prohibits multiple and intersectional discrimination – an essential provision to enhance gender equality from a legal perspective. Moreover, Thailand ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1985, but expressed reservations on Article 29(1) regarding the inter-State dispute procedure (United Nations, 1979[5]; United Nations, 2023[6]).

Gender-disaggregated, gender-relevant and intersectional data and indicators are essential to better identify policy areas that have strong linkages with gender. In Thailand, there are applicable legal provisions regulating the production and dissemination of gender statistics. Gender is one of the 21 categories for which data is mandated under Thailand’s Statistical Act. The government gathers gender-disaggregated data through various means, including the census and additional surveys such as the Labour Force Survey, the Income Expenditure Survey, the Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey, and the Elderly Survey. The Bureau of Registration Administration, within the Department of Provincial Administration, has also created a national database which contains data categorised by gender and enables users to gain improved insights into the intersection of gender equality with other factors, such as disability (Nicol, Guven and Pennisi, 2021[7]).

The law in Thailand tends to guarantee men and women equal rights in most aspects of their lives. For instance, within the family, the law grants women and men equal rights to be the legal guardian of their child, to file for divorce, to inherit and to be considered as the head of the household or the family – with the exception of Muslim women in certain parts of the country. In the economic sphere, the law grants women the same rights as men to own and use land and non-land assets as well as financial services, which translates into a small gender gap in bank account ownership – women represent 51% of bank account holders. Finally, women and men enjoy equal rights to apply for national identity cards and passports, and to travel in- and outside the country.

Discriminatory social institutions continue to undermine women’s rights and opportunities in specific spheres of their lives. The minimum legal age of marriage stands at 17 for both girls and boys, with exceptions permitting marriages prior to reaching the minimum legal age. Consequently, approximately 20% of women in the country aged 20-24 have entered into marriage or a union before turning 18. The application of Islamic law for family and inheritance matters in four states located in the south of Thailand also creates discrepancies between non-Muslim and Muslim women in the country. Moreover, the law does not comprehensively protect women from all forms of violence and allows for removal of legal punishments in certain cases of rape if the perpetrator marries the victim. In this context, 24% of women aged 15-49 years report having suffered intimate-partner violence at least once during their lifetime. In the economic sphere, the law restricts women’s ability to enter certain professions. Discriminatory attitudes and traditional gender roles further undermine women’s economic empowerment. For instance, 39% of the population agrees that when a mother works, the children suffer, and women spend 3 times more time on unpaid care and domestic work than men do. Finally, women in Thailand also face discrimination regarding their civil rights. Married women do not have the same rights as married men to acquire or transfer nationality to their spouse.


[3] Kingdom of Thailand (1946), Act on the Application of Islamic Law in Areas of Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala and Satun, B.E. 2489.

[7] Nicol, S., P. Guven and A. Pennisi (2021), “Thailand: Gender Budgeting Action Plan”, OECD Journal on Budgeting,

[1] OECD (2023), “Social Institutions and Gender Index (Edition 2023)”, OECD International Development Statistics (database), (accessed on 10 January 2024).

[8] OECD Development Centre/OECD (2023), “Gender, Institutions and Development (Edition 2023)”, OECD International Development Statistics (database), (accessed on 11 January 2024).

[6] United Nations (2023), Status of Treaties: Chapter IV - 8. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,

[5] United Nations (1979), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women,

[4] United States Department of State (2022), International Religious Freedom Report for 2022, Office of the International Religious Freedom, (accessed on 1 October 2023).

[2] University of Melbourne (2023), Southeast Asian Region Countries Law, (accessed on 1 October 2023).


← 1. The full SIGI Country Profile for Thailand is available at: OECD Development Centre (2023), “Thailand SIGI Country Profile”, SIGI 2023 Country Profiles, OECD,

← 2. SIGI scores range from 0 to 100, with 0 indicating no discrimination and 100 indicating absolute discrimination. Levels of discrimination in the SIGI and its dimensions are assessed based on scores as follow: very low [0-20]; low [20-30]; medium [30-40]; high [40-50]; and very high [50-100].

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