Written by, H.E Samheng Boros
Women and girls represent fifty percent of the world’s population and, as a result, half of its potential. Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right; it is also required for a peaceful society with full human potential and sustainable development. Furthermore, it has been proven that empowering women enhances productivity and economic growth.
To fully equalize the rights and opportunities of men and women, there is regrettably still much work to be done. Therefore, it is crucial to put an end to the many different types of gender violence and guarantee that both men and women have equal access to good healthcare, education, and economic resources, as well as political participation. Equal access to all levels of leadership and decision-making positions, as well as to employment, is also crucial.
Equal rights for women will not appear magically. This is why Cambodia is out front, taking concrete steps.
Cambodia is committed to making progress in key areas such as reducing violence against women and girls, promoting gender equality in education, empowering women in the economy, achieving the target for reducing maternal mortality, and supporting women’s participation in political affairs and decision-making.
The Constitution of Cambodia, which was passed in 1993, says that “men and women have equal rights before the law and enjoy equal participation in political, economic, social, and cultural life” (Article 35). It also says that “there is equality in employment and equal pay for equal work,” and it forbids “all forms of discrimination against women” (Article 45).
We’re establishing standards and demonstrating excellence as role models for female leaders. Together with communities, schools, workplaces, and businesses, we’re creating an environment where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.
In the future, increased investment in gender equality will be a top priority, particularly through a review of fiscal policies to create and expand public spending and the implementation of a gender-responsive budget to evaluate and monitor its effects.
On September 27, 2015, at the Global Leaders’ meeting, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said, “This meeting will be an important place for us to step up our efforts and make a commitment to achieve gender equality.”
Cambodia’s Millennium Development Goal 3 emphasizes the government’s efforts to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, especially in education, economic development, the civil service, and the prevention of violence against women.
Through policies and programs, the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) (2014–2018) emphasizes the cross-cutting nature of gender mainstreaming. It emphasizes the empowerment of women in all domains, including education, economic development, legal protection, health (including HIV/AIDS), nutrition, the public sector, and politics.
In its Rectangular Strategy for Growth, Employment, Equity, and Efficiency, Phase III (2013), the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) recognizes gender equity as a key part of national development, building capacity, and developing human resources. It talks about the need to “improve the status of women even more, since they are the backbone of Cambodian society and economy.”
The Cambodian government took steps in 2016 to develop policies on gender-responsive budgeting and gender mainstreaming, with specific actions identified for 2017-2019, including increasing public investment for gender equality, selecting pilot ministries to implement gender-responsive initiatives, and collecting best practices and case studies for knowledge-sharing purposes.
In the National Policy on Youth Development (2011), one of the six goals is to promote gender equity and equality for youth, both men and women. In particular, the Royal Government aims to give women more power and more opportunities.
The RGC put out the Village/Commune Safety Policy in 2010, which says that “no domestic violence” and “no trafficking of women and children” are the most crucial aspects.
The RGC signed on to the Beijing Platform for Action for the Promotion of the Status of Women (BPfA) and has been putting out progress reports since 1995. The BPfA listed the following four key factors for the successful operation of national systems for gender equality and the advancement of women:
- A high profile in and support from the government;
- A comprehensive system that allows a wide range of other institutional actors to actively support and take part in promoting the status of women, including legislative bodies, academic and research institutions, professional associations, trade unions, local community groups, women-focused NGOs, media, religious groups, youth organizations, and the private sector;
- Adequate use of financial and human resources;
- Opportunities for women to take part in all of the government’s decision-making processes.
Several laws have been passed to protect women’s rights in Cambodia. The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has defined approaches to gender mainstreaming in the Rectangular Strategy Phase IV for Employment Growth, Equity, and Efficiency, which aims to build a common ground towards achieving Cambodia’s vision by 2030.
The idea is that if Cambodian women acquire the necessary skills and are able to make a respectable living, their husbands will have to share household duties with them whether they like it or not. Women are more inclined to pursue economic activity outside the home when they are not expected to bear the full weight of household chores. That is the only way they can become truly part of the economic mainstream.
It will require the support of the public, private organizations, and responsible citizens.
H.E Samheng Boros is Minister attached to the Prime Minister , Royal Government of Cambodia and Chairman of National Social Assistance Fund Board (NSAF) and Secretary of State at the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY).