Claire Van der Vaeren is the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Cambodia.
08 Mar 2014
In observance of International Women’s Day, 8 March 2014
International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the progress Cambodia has made towards women’s empowerment and gender equality. Equality for women and girls is a human right, enshrined under the Constitution of Cambodia and within the international human rights treaties Cambodia has ratified. Ensuring gender equality has a powerful transformative effect on developmental progress as a whole.
In prioritizing good governance in its Rectangular Strategy, the Royal Government has marked the path for Cambodia to move towards its stated goals of growth, employment, equity, and efficiency. In this path, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are key determinants of whether development will be inclusive and sustainable. Indeed, only with the fuller participation of women and girls can Cambodia reach its development goals.
Cambodia’s young female population represents a development potential that has yet to be realized. When equal to boys in their safety and access to education and health, girls grow into women who undertake roles that are socially more advanced and economically more productive than when such equality is denied. Investments in girls and women enable them to assume leadership roles in society and allow them to become drivers of economic growth, thereby also improving the environment for women’s popular participation and representation in democratic governance.
Gender inequalities need to be addressed for these benefits to be felt. In Cambodia, while significant advances have been made in reducing poverty (from 53.2% of the population in 2004 to 20.5% in 2011), the nutrition of women and children remains a concern and the percentages of severely stunted and underweight children remain high. Recognizing that gender equality has essentially been achieved in entry to primary education, the continuing gaps in higher education indicate that girls are still leaving earlier than boys, with approximately 13% more boys entering upper secondary and tertiary education. Women’s health in Cambodia has improved significantly. The maternal mortality has decreased over the past decade, with women increasingly accessing health care during pregnancy and delivery and more women using contraception. For younger women, however, fertility has not decreased and poorer, less educated teenage girls are more likely to become pregnant when they are not ready for motherhood. Whilst there has been substantive increase in women’s wage employment in industry (from a 44% share in 2005 to 70.8% in 2011) women are still 9% more likely than men to be in vulnerable employment, will earn on average 27% less than men. In Cambodia’s 2013 national elections the gender equality at the polling stations (at over 50%) was not reflected in the National Assembly (with only 20% of seats being won by women).
Indeed, women benefit less from the fruits of progress and have less access to opportunities to improving their living conditions; at the same time they are more vulnerable or exposed to hardship. A recent UN regional study found that violence against women in all its forms is widespread, including domestic violence and rape. In addition, women who belong to disadvantaged groups, such as women with disabilities or indigenous women, will often face discrimination on multiple levels.
These inequalities must be addressed for the potential of Cambodian girls today to be realized into the lives of Cambodian women tomorrow. Equality for Cambodian girls and women is progress for all Cambodians. In his statement for International Women’s Day UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon emphasises a clear message, “[...]for every girl born today, and to every woman and girl on the planet: realizing human rights and equality is not a dream, it is a duty of governments, the United Nations and every human being. [...]for my fellow men and boys: play your part. All of us benefit when women and girls – your mothers, sisters, friends and colleagues – can reach their full potential”.
While the Millennium Development Goals call for gender equality, they have not explicitly addressed the need for transformation in gender relations. Instead of focusing on the causes of gender inequality, the focus has been on its consequences. Thus, in building good governance and in tackling gender inequality, Cambodia is faced with both the opportunity and the need to address the structural drivers of gender inequality, including the norms, attitudes and beliefs which enable gender discrimination.
The implementation of the upcoming National Strategic Development Plan (2016-2018) will provide an excellent opportunity to take action over the next five years. With a view beyond the MDGs, Cambodia is especially well positioned to meet its commitment to human rights and gender equality by increasing the voice, choice and safety of all Cambodian women and girls. By focusing on, responding to, and preventing violence, by empowering women legally and economically, and by strengthening women’s leadership and participation in public life, Cambodia can undertake a transformative gender-responsive development agenda. In doing so, Cambodia will ensure development means progress for all.
About the Author
- ហៀង ផល្លីន ជានារីខ្មែរវ័យក្នេងម្នាក់ដែលហ៊ានធ្វើការងារដែលគេច្រើននិយាយថាមានតែបុរសអាចធ្វើបាន ហើយ ផល្លីន មានឆន្ទៈក្នុងការចូលរួមរក្សាការពារសត្វល្អិត (ឃ្មុំ និងស្រាំង) តាមរយៈការងារស្ម័គ្រចិត្ត និងតួនាទីដែលប្អូនស្រីចង់ក្លាយជាអ្នកឯកទេសកំណត់អត្តសញ្ញាណសត្វល្អិត។ ផល្លីន ស្ម័គ្រចិត្តក្នុងកម្មវិធីស្រាវជ្រាវខាងសត្វល្អិតមួយ ដែលតម្រូវឳ្យប្អូនស្រីត្រូវធ្វើដំណើរក្នុងព្រៃ ដើរកាត់ទឹកជាដើម។ ដោយដឹងថា សត្វល្អិតមានទាំងប្រយោជន៍ និងផលរំខានដល់ការងារកសិកម្ម ផល្លីន សង្ឈឹមថានឹងអាចកំណត់អត្តសញ្ញាណពូជឃ្មុំទាំងឡាយក្នុងប្រទេសកម្ពុជា។ មូលហេតុចំបងដែលជម្រុញឳ្យប្អូនស្រីចូលរួមក្នុងការងារស្ម័គ្រចិត្ត និងចង់ធ្វើកិច្ចការក្នុងក្តីស្រមៃរបស់ប្អូនស្រី គឺការទទួលបានបទពិសោធន៍ និងការចូលរួមជួយដល់សង្គមជាតិ។ ផល្លីន ទើបបានបញ្ចប់ការសិក្សាផ្នែក ជីវវិទ្យា ហើយបច្ចុប្បន្ន ប្អូនស្រីកំពុងបំរើការងារជាមួយ គម្រោងសត្វល្អិតកម្ពុជាមួយ។ Heang Phallin is a young female Cambodian who takes on a so-called male job and committed to safeguarding Cambodia's insects (bee and wasp) through her volunteer work and dreamed profession as a taxonomist. Phallin has volunteered in an entomology programme under which she has to go into the forest and walk in the water. Understanding insects have both positive and negative impacts particularly on agricultural activities, Phallin is hoping to identify the most species of bee in Cambodia while their current identification has little been made. Gaining relevant experience and contributing back to the society are the main motives for her involvement in her volunteer job and her dreamed job. Phallin has just graduated her degree in Biology and she is now working with Cambodia Entomology Imitative Project. http://bit.ly/2axl0NC #YouthSkills | #YouthDay | #Youth2030 | #Klahan9 23 hours ago
- ឡាវ ចំរើន ជាសហគ្រិនខ្មែរវ័យក្មេងម្នាក់ដែលបានបង្កើតអជីវកម្មបែបសិប្បកម្ម ដែលមិនត្រឹមតែបានជួយដល់ជនពិការ ថែមទាំងជួយដល់ការថែរក្សាបរិស្ថានទៀតផង។ ចំរើន បានជួលជនពិការមានជំនាញសិប្បកម្មជាបុគ្គលិក និងកែច្នៃឡើងវិញនូវសម្ភារៈដែលបានប្រើប្រាស់រួចហើយដូចជា សបកកង់ចាស់ៗ ក្រដាស់កាសែត សបកបាវស៊ីម៉ង់ ជាដើម ក្នុងដំណើរការផលិតកម្មរបស់គាត់។ តម្រូវការទីផ្សារលើផលិតផលសិប្បកម្មរបស់គាត់បច្ចុប្បន្នមានការកើនឡើងយ៉ាងខ្លាំង ទាំងពីអតិថិជនក្នុង និងក្រៅស្រុក។ ចំរើន បច្ចុប្បន្នជា អ្នកគ្រប់គ្រងផលិតកម្ម របស់ Smart Craft។ សូមស្តាប់សម្តីរបស់ ចំរើន អំពីអជីវកម្មរបស់គាត់៖ http://bit.ly/2a3vq1S Lav Chamroeun is a young Cambodian entrepreneur who started up his own handicraft business that not only helps the disable people but also save the environment. In the production process, the disable people with handicraft related skills are employed and used-materials such as old tires, newspapers, cement bags, etc. are recycled. Demands for his products now rise dramatically from both local and foreign buyers. Chamroeun is currently a Production Manager of Smart Craft. Listen to what Chamroeun says about his business http://bit.ly/2a3vq1S #YouthSkills | #YouthDay | #Youth2030 | #Klahan9 Yesterday AT 12:55 AM
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