CAMBODIA: Government Uplifts Women's Role in Socio-Economic Activities

Sunday, November 7, 2010
The Southeast Asia Weekly
South Eastern Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Peace Processes
Human Rights

The Royal Government of Cambodia encourages for having more women participations in national and sub-national institutions, aiming to promote social gender equity.

Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said that the government usually encourages balancing women roles both in central and local levels. Women are not only encouraged to produce their active outcomes in all levels, but the constantly training courses as capacity building also provided guaranty of their effective capacity dealing with the obligations.

“The government hasn't only reviewed women traditional roles but also acknowledged their competency, knowledge, skill, competitive advantage and potential of women that can be used as main inputs in socio-economic development,” he said during the closing ceremony of a Forum on “Uplifting Women's Leadership Role at the Subnational Level” on November 3rd.
This is the historic forum which was organized from the 2nd to the 3rd of November 2010 while 605 women leaders from government ministries, national authorities, provincial and local authorities across the country to come and reunite together.

The forum was organized by the Ministry of Women's Affairs, supported by UNFPA, UNICEF, UNDP, UNIFAM, PyD-AECID, and EU-SPACE.

Prime Minister stated that through this milestone forum, he hoped to see more women participations in public services, elimination of women discrimination and domestic violence against women, further intensify focus on gender equity, social welfare improvement, and to tie up the partnership and good relationship with both national and international development partners.

During the past decade shows that participation of women in decisionmaking has markedly increased. For instance, the proportion of women elected to the National Assembly has steadily increased, from 5 percent in 1993 to 11 percent in 1998, to 19 percent in 2003, and to 22 percent in 2008. Furthermore, the proportion of women holding positions as secretary of state and under secretary of state has also increased from 7 percent and 9.6 percent in 2003, to 7.7 percent and 14.6 percent in 2008 respectively. At present, 10.1 percent of municipal and provincial council members are women, and 12.6 percent of city, district and commune council members are women as well. From this active participation in political activities at the local level, now women who are members of commune councils has increased from 8.5 percent in 2002 to 14.6 percent in 2007, and now women working at the village management level is 30 percent.

Parallel to this, the Royal Government has also continued the implementation of legal measures, and other policy measures under the decentralization process so as to promote the women's involvement, and find solutions to women and children's problems. These measures include regulatory on gender laws on administration governance of municipality, province, city, district and commune; and decrees and guidance for the women's consultation committee and children at the sub-national level.

Ministry of Interior has appointed women as deputy governors of municipalities, provinces, cities, districts and communes nationwide. Secretariat of Public Service has announced and disseminated instruction information on selecting government officials serving public institutions as women from 20 percent to 50 percent. Thus, the proportion of women government officials has increased from 32 percent in 2007 to 34 percent in 2007 in middle of 2009.

“We have to imagine extensively about women, providing them with opportunity and support in participating in public sector and political sector of women as well as recognizing women's potential in political capacity and activity of Cambodian women,” he said. “It is true that everything mentioned above is to achieve the wish of the Royal Government that wants to see our society with peace, political stability, security and social order, sustainable development, moral, human rights, and human dignity. In short, the Royal Government wants to see people becoming highly educated, well- informed about cultures, having decent living and living in harmony in society as well in family.” Prime Minister supported to assign women candidate replacing the retired personnel, and encouraged the public institutions in all level to increase the female civil servant as more as possible.

“I wish to appeal to all leadership women and the head of the National and Sub-National Committee that, to appoint women for holding high positions in public institutions will means nothing if women themselves don't strengthen the ability, capacity to strike for their rights. The head of national and sub-national institutions should assign suitable roles for women complement to their positions,” he said.

H.E. Dr. Ing Kantha Phavi, Minister of Women's Affairs, remarked that this forum was organized in aiming to strengthen up and extend women networking, and discuss to seek out potential points, concerning challenges, and jointly establish the productive mechanism to support women and encourage them to actively involve in sub-national affairs.

‘To increase the number of women in decision making in all levels can be achievable as long as the warmly support and chances can be provided to them such as political encouragement, possible principles to strengthen up women ability, and resource allocation to assure women who are current leaders to adequately play their practical roles and obligations,” she stressed during her opening remarks on November 2nd.

She also addressed that Cambodian women are still the victims of social and traditional barriers which prevent them not to involve in political advocacy and other social affairs. Those barriers are social attitude to discriminate women, limited education to women, heavy households for women, shortage of financial endorsement and lack of encouragement by family members including negative concept of political involvement from women themselves that deter them to stand out as the political election candidacy. Though, even women represent more than 50 percent of Cambodian population, number of women as political leaders and public affairs are still limited.