IU in Thailand

Seven decades of relationship-building resulting in IU's longest-standing partnership

Women in Leadership and Philanthropy was the topic of a recent panel hosted by IU first lady Laurie Burns-McRobbie.

It has only been a little more than 20 years since Thailand changed its constitution to explicitly mention gender equality. Human trafficking and exploitation of women and young girls is still an issue being fought every day.

But in a world where women and girls have historically been disregarded and at times abused, dozens of Indiana University alumnae from the ASEAN region have dedicated their careers to advocating for women's rights, taking the lead on educational advancement for women and girls and being at the forefront of policy changes.

Some of those women were celebrated during a "Women in Leadership and Philanthropy" panel, hosted by IU first lady Laurie Burns McRobbie during a recent trip to Thailand for the opening of the IU ASEAN Gateway office.

Description of the following video:

[Words appear in upper-left corner: Indiana University presents]

[Video: Closeups of a person's hands, formed in the shape of a heart.]

Laurie Burns McRobbie, first lady of Indiana University, speaks in voiceover: Women lead through their philanthropy, defined as the giving of …  

[Video: A group of women are sitting together talking. One is holding a clipboard and pen, taking notes.]

McRobbie speaks in voiceover: … "time, talent and treasure," I think is the way the phrase goes.

[Video: McRobbie appears on camera.]

[Words appear: Laurie Burns McRobbie, First lady of Indiana University]

McRobbie speaks: Certainly in the U.S., and I think in Thailand as well, women's roles in building civil society and nonprofits has been instrumental in creating a healthy society.

[Video: A young girl holds a sign that reads "GIVE." She is standing in front of a group of children who are hosting a donation drive.]

McRobbie speaks in voiceover: Generosity does not know borders.

[Video: A closeup of a group of people praying. Only their hands and their saffron-yellow robes can be seen. Their hands are in a prayer position.]

McRobbie speaks in voiceover: Every major religion, every society …

[Video: A woman is volunteering at a food drive. She picks out a canned item from a box and hands it to the person who needs it. She is smiling while doing so.]

McRobbie speaks in voiceover: … has philanthropic traditions, …

[Video: A group of women are standing in a circle. They each put one of their hands together in the middle of the circle. The camera angle is seen from below their hands.]

McRobbie speaks in voiceover: … and we know that, to a great extent, …

[Video: McRobbie leads a panel of women in Thailand. She is speaking into a microphone. Three Thai women sit in chairs on the stage with her.]

McRobbie speaks in voiceover: … through the work that we do at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.
[Video: McRobbie sits next to Thailand Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn at an Indiana University event.]

McRobbie speaks in voiceover: It's part and parcel of IU's DNA …

[Video: McRobbie appears on camera.]

McRobbie speaks: … to look at those philanthropic traditions. And it's been an …

[Video: McRobbie leads a panel of women in Thailand. She is speaking into a microphone. Three Thai women sit next to her.]

McRobbie speaks in voiceover: … extraordinary joy and privilege for me as …

[Video: A photograph of McRobbie wearing a hijab on a trip to the Middle East.]

McRobbie speaks: … I travel around IU trips around the world.

[Video: A photograph of McRobbie and a group of women. They are standing in front of an Indiana University sign. All women are smiling and looking toward the camera.]

McRobbie speaks in voiceover: Everywhere we go, we discover people who are giving …

[Video: A photograph of McRobbie and her husband, IU President Michael A. McRobbie, posing with two individuals from Thailand.]

McRobbie speaks in voiceover: … back in multiple ways.

[Screen goes to black]
[IU trident appears]
[Words appear: Indiana University]
[Words appear: Fulfilling the promise]
[Words appear: iu.edu]

[END OF TRANSCRIPT]
 

IU first lady Laurie Burns-McRobbie discusses women in leadership and philanthropy.

With Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn in attendance, Burns-McRobbie led the panel discussion that featured IU alumnae Pusadee Tamthai, former deputy governor of Bangkok; Duangjai Asawachintachit, secretary general at the Office of the Board of Investment in Thailand; and Juree Vichit-Vadakan, director of the Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society at the National Institute of Development Administration and longtime advocate for civil society and gender equality.

"This panel is all about women's leadership," Burns-McRobbie said. "Women lead through their philanthropy, defined as the giving of time, talent and treasure. And it's really true -- certainly in the U.S., and I think in Thailand as well. Women's roles in building civil society and nonprofits have been instrumental in creating a healthy society, and this panel brings that out."

Pushing the boundaries

As a young girl growing up in Thailand, Saisuree Chutikul learned early the discrimination that can come when you are female.

At birth, Chutikul was dismissed by her paternal grandmother because she wasn't the son her grandparents expected. As an adult, she was told her studies -- including earning a doctorate from Indiana University -- were a waste of time because she was a married woman; money spent on her education should go to her brothers.

But there was one person in Chutikul's corner who taught her that women and children are valuable and that her voice could, and should, be heard.

Description of the following video:

[Words appear in lower-left corner: Indiana University presents]

[Video: A screenshot of a magazine article appears. The article has a picture of Saisuree Chutikul on it. She is looking at her reflection in a mirror. The top of the magazine article has text on it that says "Women's rights." The video scans the entirety of the news article.]
 
[Video: A screenshot of an online news article appears. The article has a picture of Saisuree Chutikul on it. The headline of the article reads, "Dr. Saisuree Chutikul wins Asean Peoples' Award.]
 
Saisuree Chutikul speaks in voiceover: I think I have been influenced very much by my mother, who as the student of Presbyterian missionary, woman missionary, …
 
[Video: Chutikul appears on camera.]
 
Words appear: Saisuree Chutikul, IU School of Education alumna]
 
Chutikul speaks: …she thinks that the rights of the woman and the children are very important.
 
[Video: An Asian mother plays with her young son in his room. They are both sitting down on the ground and holding string that is part of a board game.]
 
Chutikul speaks in voiceover: Respect for the children, …
 
[Video: An Asian mother watches as her two young daughters weave blankets. The three are sitting on the platform of a hut.]
 
Chutikul speaks in voiceover: … the underprivileged kids.
 
[Video: An older Asian woman sits with two young girls inside a hut. She is reading to them. Clothes, a bucket of water and other items can be seen hanging on the exterior of the hut. 
 
Chutikul speaks in voiceover: I always work with them, sympathize with them; …
 
[Video: A closeup of a young Asian girl. She is crying.]
 
Chutikul speaks in voiceover: … street children, abused children, …
 
[Video: A young Asian woman is seen. She has her baby strapped to her back.]
 
Chutikul speaks in voiceover: … children who were trafficked,
 
[Video: A young Asian woman is making dinner inside her hut. Her young baby is strapped to her chest.]
Chutikul speaks in voiceover: … women who have been oppressed,
 
[Video: A close-up of a homeless person's hand. They are sitting on the ground, holding a cup with money in it.]
 
Chutikul speaks in voiceover: … the law that showed gender inequality, …
 
[Video: A village in Thailand as seen by a moving boat. The village is composed of houses on stilts, with water underneath them.
 
Chutikul speaks in voiceover: … so I tried to work on it, abolish wherever I can.
 
[Video: Chutikul appears on camera.]
 
Chutikul speaks: Whether as a cabinet minister, or as a senator, …
 
[Video: A photograph of Chutikul. She is talking into a microphone, and a nameplate can be seen in front of her.]
 
Chutikul speaks in voiceover: … or as a representative to a national committee, or whatever opportunity …
 
[Video: A photography of Chutikul laughing with former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Clinton, along with Madeleine Albright and other Clinton Cabinet members.]
 
Chutikul speaks in voiceover: I can have. There were many people who made a lot of strong objections, as you can imagine, …
 
[Video: A screenshot of an online news article from April 7, 2015, appears. The article has a picture of women in military uniforms. The headline of the article reads, "Benefits Spread When Women Keep the Peace: Q&A with Saisuree Chutikul."
 
Chutikul speaks in voiceover: … whether in the social area, or legal area. What hurts me most, is some…
 
[Video: Chutikul appears on camera.]
 
Chutikul speaks: … women were against me on these issues.
 
[Video: Chutikul plays the piano. Closeups of her hands hitting the piano keys can be seen.]
 
Chutikul speaks in voiceover: But when they were female and they were against the rights of the female and the rights of the children, it really hurt me. There is a Thai saying, which says, "If you bite into it, don't let it go."
 
[Video: A screenshot of an online news article appears. No photographs appear with this article. The headline of the article reads, "Thai Women Getting Harassment Law."]
 
Chutikul speaks in voiceover: "Just bite into it, like a dog. Hang onto it. Don't let it go."
 
[Video: A screenshot of an online news article by the School of Education appears. The article has a picture of Saisuree Chutikul on it to the right. The headline of the article reads, "Alumna Saisuree Chutikul Dedicated to Promoting Women's and Children's Issues."
 
Chutikul speaks in voiceover: So that's the kind of effort that I tried to -- tried to do.
 
[Screen goes to black]
[IU trident appears]
[Words appear: Indiana University]
[Words appear: Fulfilling the promise]
[Words appear: iu.edu]
 
[END OF TRANSCRIPT]
 

Saisuree Chutikul talks about her inspirations growing up and spending her career fighting for women's rights.

From top: Pusadee Tamthai in front of the Government House of Thailand; Tamthai served as a member of Parliament for 10 years; Tamthai during her graduation at IU. Photos provided by Pusadee Tamthai