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Cambodia’s Commitment to Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality

by Surya Narayan
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The National Assembly of Cambodia has affirmed its strong political will to encourage and promote the role of women in achieving the country’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) and its vision for 2030 and 2050. Comprehensive laws integrating gender equality into public policy and laws have been passed, acknowledging the challenges faced by women.

During the National Forum on Women in Leadership and Governance, Khuon Sudary, president of the National Assembly, highlighted the parliament’s efforts in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment through various initiatives and parliamentary forums. He quoted Prime Minister Hun Manet, who expressed the belief that the world would be safer, more beautiful, and warmer with more women in leadership roles.

Despite these efforts, challenges remain in terms of women’s representation in politics and the public sector. Globally, women constitute approximately 26.7% of legislatures and 35.5% of governments, according to the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2023. In Cambodia, the proportion of women in top leadership positions has increased slightly, with a rise from 14.75% to 16.13% in the Senate. However, the number of female members in the National Assembly has decreased from 20.8% to 13.6%. On a positive note, the participation of women at the sub-national level has increased, with an increase in the number of female commune chiefs and council members.

Cambodia has achieved notable progress in areas such as maternal health. The country ranks among the top ten nations that have achieved the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in maternal health, with a significant decrease in the maternal mortality rate from 472 per 100,000 live births in 2005 to 154 in 2022. The World Economic Forum also recognizes Cambodia’s high rate of women’s ownership or management of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), ranking it 41st out of 146 countries.

Cambodian women’s participation in security and peace efforts has also been acknowledged. The country ranks first among ASEAN nations and 13th out of 120 countries in terms of sending women soldiers on UN peacekeeping operations.

The Minister of Women’s Affairs, Ing Kantha Phavi, reiterated the commitment of both the legislative and executive branches of Cambodia to promote and strengthen the role of women in achieving the SDGs and the country’s vision for 2030 and 2050.

This commitment to women’s empowerment and gender equality reflects Cambodia’s dedication to creating a more inclusive and equal society.

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