Women in Diplomacy

“Gender has never come in the way of my diplomacy,” says Pittara Navarat

Counsellor at the Royal Thailand Embassy, Kuwait 

Pittara Navarat, a young diplomat working as a counsellor at the Royal Embassy of Thailand in Kuwait since 2017, has almost 15 years of experience in diplomacy. During her past three years and four months in Kuwait, Ms. Navarat has undertaken several assignments and accomplished them successfully. Her hard work and persistence have been evident right from day one. In a recent exclusive interview with The Times Kuwait, she said that gender has never come in the way of her diplomacy and that she was never treated or felt differently because of her gender.

Coming to Kuwait from The Hague in the Netherlands, the young diplomat said she had very little knowledge about life in Kuwait, as she had never been in this part of the world before. “Kuwait was a pleasant surprise,” she pointed out as she found the country very welcoming and the people friendly with open and liberal mindsets, and she was able to form very good relations with the local government officials.

A very focused and hardworking diplomat, Ms. Navarat was left in charge of the embassy during the early days of Covid-19 pandemic as her superiors were stuck outside due to the lockdown. She along with her embassy team undertook many activities during this time in helping Thai nationals, especially with food distribution, repatriation flights and also sorting out issues within the community. She exhibited strong qualities of leadership in taking care of Thai citizens.

Recently, Ms. Navarat took time off from her busy schedule to speak at length with the Times Kuwait Managing Editor Reaven D’Souza answering questions about herself and her diplomatic career.

Can you please tell us a little bit about your background and how you entered into the diplomatic profession?

After finishing high school in Thailand, I received a Thai Government scholarship to study Law in the United Kingdom, where I did my B.A. in Law at Oxford University and L.L.M. at University College London. After I finished my degrees, I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of my scholarship terms.

What are the responsibilities you have undertaken as a diplomat so far?

At the headquarters, I worked at the Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs, which I enjoyed. We provided legal opinions on various issues to different government agencies.

My first posting was at The Hague, I dealt with Legal Affairs, International Organizations, and worked with the International Court of Justice (ICJ), International Criminal Court, Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and I was also part of the team dealing with the Preah Vihear Temple case at the ICJ.

My second posting was dealing with economic affairs, information and press, culture, international organizations, Thai students, protocol and ASEAN.

What challenges did you face as a woman diplomat, and how easy or difficult do you think it is for women to work in diplomacy?

I am lucky to have a chance working in a very supportive environment where there is no discrimination against gender. There are an increasing number of women as ambassadors and in senior rankings such as Director General, Deputy Director General and Consul-General in the Thai Foreign Ministry. Our recent Permanent Secretary was also a woman. As long as you are good, and with the right support, your voice can be heard, no matter whether you are male or female. Gender has never come in the way of my diplomatic assignments.

What do you enjoy most in being a diplomat?

The diversity of the job. In my first post, I did more on substance and academic, but for this post, it is a more hands on job, during receptions and interactions where you get a chance to experience first hand about the country and to learn different cultures, enhance bilateral relations, exchange cooperation and best practices between the two countries

Tell us about your postings and also about your experience in Kuwait as a diplomat

Kuwait and Kuwaitis are very liberal, open-minded and easygoing. Since I have been posted here, I had a chance to organise many projects to promote Thailand such as  Thai Silk Roadshow, to promote silk from Queen Sirikit’s project.

I have also worked on projects to promote unity and strengthen relationships within the ASEAN Community in Kuwait or ASEAN Committee Kuwait (ACK), and between ASEAN and Kuwait.  Thailand was the chairman of the ACK for one and a half years and I had the chance to organise many events. We held the first ASEAN seminar to raise awareness about ASEAN between Kuwaitis and expats, ASEAN day, ASEAN Family day, Sports Day and several other activities.

Where do you see yourself in the coming years in your career?

As an ambassador… of course. I have worked with several great ambassadors and to be able to see what they can achieve for Thailand is a privilege and I wish I will have a chance to do that one day. Our job is not only promoting Thailand but I believe we have to promote the host country to Thai people as well. For example, I want Thai people to know more about Kuwait. There are still opportunities here for trade, tourism and many fields of cooperation, and also another important job of the Embassy is helping Thai people abroad. So far in Kuwait, we have organised many projects with Thai students, all of whom are here on scholarship from the Kuwait government. We also support the Thai community by organising career enhancing projects, operate mobile consular service and religious and cultural functions for the community.

What are your pastimes or hobbies?

I like traveling, learning about different cultures, dining, experiencing different cuisine, and going to gym, boxing and zumba to keep myself fit. I believe that a healthy body goes in line with a healthy mind.

Any experience you would like to share with us

The Covid-19 pandemic was an unexpected occurrence and the lockdown made the embassy serve our countrymen in some of the most difficult circumstances. I am happy that we used all our resources, experience and performed and delivered in line with the expectations of our citizens. The unusual circumstances under which we had to serve our people gave me an enormous learning experience.

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