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Lady Ambhorn: A trailblazer for equality and human rights

Graphic: Lady Ambhorn listening to the stories of internally displaced persons in Thailand

The APF has paid tribute to the life and work of Lady Ambhorn Meesook, former Commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand.

The APF has paid tribute to the life and contribution of Lady Ambhorn Meesook, former Commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, who passed away on 30 June 2014.

Lady Ambhorn, who served at the Commission between 2003 and 2009, was the first woman to break the glass ceiling in Thailand's public service.

After completing a doctorate at Harvard University, she was the first female director-general appointed to the Ministry of Education.

She would go on to take up a seat in Thailand's National Assembly following the 1973 student uprising and used her position to lobby successfully for an historic gender equality clause to be included in the Constitution.

Lady Ambhorn also played a key advisory role in the drafting of Thailand's Long-Term Women's Development Plan for 1982-2001.

She was a strong and consistent defender of human rights during her term at the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand. In partnership with the APF, she played a pivotal role in a major regional project on the rights of internally displaced persons.

She also made an enormous contribution to the promotion of human rights through her work with international NGOs, including the International Council on Social Welfare and the International Bureau for Children's Rights.

"Lady Ambhorn was a woman of enormous intelligence, integrity and ability," said Pip Dargan, Deputy Director of the APF secretariat.

"In addition to her many achievements in public life, she will be remembered for the deep compassion and genuine respect she displayed towards people of all backgrounds, particularly the vulnerable and the marginalised."

Australia's first Human Rights Commissioner, Brian Burdekin, who worked with Lady Ambhorn for over 20 years, said her courage, quiet commitment, humility and perseverance were an inspiration to all who knew her.

Lady Ambhorn was a pioneer of educational radio and television broadcasting in Thailand and served in a voluntary capacity on the boards of more than 30 civil society organisations, including as president of the Foundation for Lifelong Education.

She was 96 when she passed away and is survived by her four children.

Date: 5 July 2014