Chulalongkorn University Theses and Dissertations (Chula ETD)

Title (Main Language of ETD)

The study of women leaders in Southeast Asia

Year (A.D.)


Document Type


First Advisor

Saikaew Thipakorn


Graduate School (บัณฑิตวิทยาลัย)

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Degree Level

Master's Degree

Degree Discipline

Southeast Asian Studies




In a patriarchal society, the subjection of women to men is a universal custom, so any departure from it appears unnatural. However, since the very early time in Southeast Asia, females enjoyed a relatively high status and independence. They also took important roles no matter in the family or the society. As a result, there were many outstanding women leaders and elite women throughout history. However, the concept of patriarchy still affects Southeast Asia society. It is more common for a man to hold the position of leader in society. This article studied female leaders of Southeast Asia during the contemporary period to find out factors that supported them to the leading status in their societies, namely Corazon Aquino, the first female to ascend to the presidency in the Philippines’ history, Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratic advocate against the Junta in Myanmar, and Megawati Sukarnoputri, the first female president in Indonesia. It is interesting to find that family ties play a crucial role in their way to politics. Then the common thing which all these three women leaders got is gender symbolism. All of them were described by their supporters as “mother” or “ saint” to emphasize their characteristic of purity, mercy, and far away from corruption to contrast with the cheating and lying male leaders. It is also interesting to find that support from religious organizations seems not a vital factor for women leaders.

Included in

Asian Studies Commons