H.E. Ms. Robina P. Marks is the South African Ambassador to Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma) and to Laos. She is also Permanent Observer at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
She was born in Cape Town on January 21, 1963, and was educated at Bellvile South High School, University of the Western Cape (B.A Honours: Sociology, Teacher’s Diploma); the University of Manchester’s Institute for Development Policy and Management (Advanced Diploma: Institutional Development); and University of Sussex’s Institute for Development Studies (M.A: Gender Studies).
A former political detainee under the then Internal Security Act 29 during the Anti-Apartheid struggle, Ms Marks was a student, community and trade union activist, a gender activist and a regional organizer of the United Democratic Front, a fore-runner of the African National Congress, and an anti-apartheid forum that campaigned for the release of political prisoners and the unbanning of all political organizations.
Subsequent to the advent of democracy in 1994, Ms Marks served on Boards of various civil society organizations committed to deepening democracy and entrenching non-racism and non-sexism-these included the Development Action Group, Women’s College and the Saartjie Baartman Shelterfor Women. Ms Marks also worked as a change consultant to then Minister Manto-Shabalala Msimang (Minister of Justice); Head of the Office on the Status of Women in the Presidency, and as equity adviser to the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Development Bank of Southern Africa. Internationally, she has worked on numerous assignments across Africa: Nigeria, Uganda, Madagascar, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. She has also worked with the European Union’s mission in South Africa, UNIFEM and the Ford Foundation.
Ms Marks held various positions in non-governmental organizations as a researcher, race and diversity consultant, and lecturer. She was a visiting lecturer at the African Gender Institute (UCT), and a research fellow at Simmons College, Boston, M.A with a specific research interest on the politics and practice of identity politics in South Africa.
Prior to her appointment, she was employed at the Department of International Relations as Chief Director: Gender in the Office of the Director-General. In this capacity, she was responsible for representing South Africa at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, at the African Union Women’s Directorate, and the Southern African Development Community Gender Secretariat. Within South Africa, she hosted, with the Progressive Women’s Movement and South African Women in Dialogue, several peace round tables with women in countries that were emerging from conflict-these included Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Sudan and South Sudan. These dialogues assisted in popularizing UN Resolution 1325 in particular, and served as an impetus to build solidarity amongst women across political parties so as to contribute to a lasting peace. She was also responsible for overseeing the development of South Africa’s National Action Plan on UNRes 1325.
In October 2011she accepted an invitation to become a diplomat and the President, on the advice of the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, appointed her as the Ambassador to Thailand. She took up her appointment in Bangkok on 23 March 2012.