Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha of Thailand was appointed UNIFEM (now UN Women) Goodwill Ambassador in September 2008. Her goodwill ambassadorship and personal credentials have lent unprecedented visibility to UNIFEM (now UN Women) in Thailand, while uniting multiple stakeholders around the cause of ending violence against women. As a result of a nationwide public awareness drive with her as a central figure, Thailand collected more than three million names for UNIFEM’s (now UN Women) global Say NO to Violence against Women campaign.
“I take pride in saying that Thailand’s support to the global UNIFEM [now UN Women] Say NO to Violence against Women campaign is second to none. I also note with appreciation the national ownership that has evolved around this process. It is indeed a strong foundation upon which coordinated efforts to end violence against women and girls in Thailand have been and will continue to be built,” Princess Bajrakitiyabha said in her speech on 22 November 2008, at a ceremony in Bangkok where 3,123,679 signatures to the Say NO campaign were submitted to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon via UNIFEM (now UN Women).
HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha was born on 7 December 1978, the eldest daughter of HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. With a PhD in Law from Cornell University, she currently works as an assistant public prosecutor in a northeastern province of Thailand.
Through her work, Princess Bajrakitiyabha encountered and came to learn about the situation of imprisoned women and their babies, and how domestic violence was the reason why many women ended up in prison. As a result, she initiated the “Kamlangjai” or “Inspire” project, which addresses the special needs and vulnerabilities of female inmates and their children. From its pilot phase at the central correctional facilities in Bangkok, the project has been upscaled to prisons in other parts of Thailand. The rights-based approach demonstrated by “Inspire” was showcased at the 17th Session of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna in April 2008.
Princess Bajrakitiyabha’s initial interest in the condition of women in prisons has subsequently broadened to other issues of violence against women, women’s empowerment as well as international instruments to address these. In an offshoot from “Inspire,” Her Royal Highness is a driving force behind the “Enhancing Life for Female Inmates” (ELFI) project. Under ELFI, the Thai government seeks international support to incorporate gender concerns into the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.