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15 Jun, 2024

Thai-Muslim women on the move as peace gains ground in South Thailand

Pattani Province, South Thailand — One of the biggest positive impacts of the slow but steady onset of peace in South Thailand is the emergence of a new generation of female entrepreneurs. This was more than apparent during a June 11-13 familiarisation trip organised for members of the diplomatic corps and media by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The itinerary, planned and organised in cooperation with the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) and the provincial authorities of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, included stops at several places where local entrepreneurs were given an opportunity to showcase their products. These ranged from batik apparel, health and wellness products, medical supplies, footwear, food snacks, and much more.

The trip included Ambassadors and diplomats from Egypt, Nigeria, Brunei, the Maldives, Iran, Indonesia and Uzbekistan along with Thailand’s Ambassadors to Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Türkiye and UAE.

The very first stop included an exhibition on HRH Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Rajakanya’s fabric design of “Chaba Pattani” pattern and showcase of local products (e.g., batik fabric, consumer products, OTOP products). We also visited the Yaring Batik Community Enterprise Group, the TK Park in Yala province, the Islamic Cultural Heritage and Al-Quran Learning Center and the Pikun Thong Royal Development Study Centre in Narathiwat.

Many of the products are made under the management of the Women’s Economic Empowerment and Learning Centre which helps women and families impacted by the violence.

HRH Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Rajakanya, daughter of His Majesty King Rama X, is also supporting the design and production of batik cloth and apparel. On the occasion of her 36th birthday, Princess Sirivannavari created the “Chaba Pattani” pattern, inspired by local Pattani designs and the hibiscus flower, symbolizing the province. This pattern is a gift to Pattani weavers to enhance their identity and sustain local crafts. The creation includes six designs for royal day and night gowns. The hibiscus, or “Bhu Nga Raya” (King’s Flower), is featured in the pattern, originating from the Yaring Palace’s design in Pattani.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Mrs.Patimoh Sadiyamu, (below) Governor of Pattani Province, the first female Thai-Muslim governor of any province in Thailand.

In her welcome speech to the delegates, Governor Patimoh said, “Pattani has abundant natural resources, especially sea and mangrove forests, and has magnificent cultural traditions. Majority of the population practices Islam; however, they can live with people of other religions peacefully, under one institution ideology, “the Nation, the Religion, the Monarchy”. There are different religious places of worship here in Pattani, such as Pattani Central Mosque, Rat Burana Temple (or Wat Chang Hai), and Chinese Lim Ko Niao Shrine, which become widely-known tourist attractions for both Thai and foreigners. Additionally, Pattani has diverse food culture that has generated income to people residing in the area.”

She added, “​I believe that, Excellencies’ visit to the southern border provinces this time will be an open chance for us to work together, including the development on infrastructure, that would lead to other development areas, particularly in economy, trade and logistics, agro-industry, fisheries, international investment, as well as the development of product quality and entrepreneurs of dried squid products, Budu sauce or the southern-style fish sauce, fish crackers, velvet tamarind paste, brassware, and batik cloths. Education is another area of cooperation which is of particular importance as a fundamental tool for human resources development. The cooperation on promoting and supporting Thai southern border provinces’ students to study abroad and to have the opportunity to improve their foreign languages skills will bring them a greater career opportunity in the future, including maintaining good culture and traditions to last forever.”

Here are images of the women entrepreneurs. I spoke to a few and heard some energetic sales pitches for their products.

Here are brochures of some the products run by female-owned and -operated companies. As a rule, it is not a journalist’s job to promote products, but in this case I will make an exception for a worthy cause. If any readers see potential for doing business, all their names and contact details are included.



Here are the name-cards of some of the women.

Many women are also finding jobs in other areas such as painting and basket-weaving.