primary objective was to promote women’s skills, thereby increasing opportunity for greater income. Thirty women applicants attended this training class. Most trainees felt their skill was enhanced during the training and it was useful for them. In addition to tailoring, classes in advanced flower cultivation technology and the art of flower arrangement were offered by the vocational training programs. Overall, vocational training raised the women’s sense of self-worth and enhanced their ability to adjust to social and economic change.
Social Change and Women’s Status
Hmong social change may result from development programs and other broader social forces. The implementation of the Royal Projects and the Thai government’s integration policy has a great effect on the life of the Hmong. Traditional swidden agriculture has been abandoned, and modern agricultural technology introduced. Poppy growing has been replaced by the cultivation of cash crops. The Hmong are no longer migratory, and have taken up a full and permanent village way of life. Roads have been built to reach every Hmong village. Many households own modern vehicles such as pick-up trucks and motorcycles. It is now convenient to travel to town. The villagers often drive trucks or motorcycles to the fields to work. Water-pipe systems, electricity and health centers have been provided. Since the 1970s, Thailand has made great progress in primary compulsory education in the countryside, including the hill-tribe communities. Nowadays, it is easy to find schools in the Hmong villages. Educational rights no longer belong only to men. The Hmong women now also have equal opportunities in education.
In the past, the women were restricted within the private sphere of the family. They could not easily leave their homes and villages, except in special cases such as taking the children to see the doctor. It was uncommon to find Hmong women in Chiang Mai City, but today, many Hmong women trade in the night bazaar and weekend market in Chiang Mai as well as throughout the country. Some young Hmong businesswomen speak not only Thai but also a little English, Chinese, and Japanese when they are dealing with clients. They have become good business people.
The reasons Hmong women are involved in business
1. Cultural support for high fertility leads to an increase in population, adding to the pressures on land. Moreover, some villages are located in national forest-protected areas. In order to protect the natural resources and the environment as well as supplement household incomes, it is necessary to promote non-agricultural occupations for the villagers. Capitalism and a market economy have integrated the Hmong into this mechanism, making them rely on commerce and business (Hengsuwan, 2003).
2. Before tourism developed in Chiang Mai, a few foreign traders went to the Hmong villages to purchase their traditional clothing and handicrafts. Henceforth, the Hmong villagers began to recognize that their traditional culture was an economic