Written by, H.E Samheng Boros
Women’s economic empowerment includes their ability to participate equally in existing markets, access to and control over productive resources, access to decent work, control over their own time, lives, and bodies, and increased voice, agency, and meaningful participation in economic decision-making at all levels, from the household to international institutions. It is the process of empowering women.
Women’s empowerment can be described in a variety of ways. However, when it comes to women’s empowerment, empowerment involves embracing and allowing those (women) who are on the outside of the decision-making process to participate in it. Women’s empowerment is the most important factor to consider for a country’s overall growth. In certain societies, women are still discriminated against based on their gender.
There are no female leaders. There are only leaders.
According to a recent report released jointly by UN Women and Asean Chair Cambodia, Cambodia leads Asean in women’s employment with 49 women out of every 100-working people, a figure that is greater than the region’s most advanced economies.
Since the early days of Khmer civilization, Cambodia has been known for empowering women. Queen Indra Devi and Queen Jayarajdevi made significant contributions to the development of education and healthcare in the 12th century AD.
Many Cambodian women are now getting the social attention and recognition they deserve. Some Cambodian women have emerged as leaders in their own right as a result of their knowledge, talents, capability, and crucial responsibilities in society. For example, Cambodia now has one female deputy prime minister.
Many other Cambodian women are leaders of private businesses, universities, think tanks, non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations, and other institutions. They show that women can also lead and contribute meaningfully to society. Their roles are no longer confined to the kitchen, as was often thought. They are less restricted by their gender and socioeconomic position.
The proportion of women in Cambodia’s Senate and National Assembly has now risen to 18 and 20%, respectively.
Women made up 41 percent of total civil servants in Cambodia, with 26 percent serving in decision-making roles, and 36 percent of women in the public and private sectors belong to the management team.
Two of Cambodia’s 25 capital and provincial governors are women, and nearly 8% are commune chiefs. The Royal Government of Cambodia is committed to increasing the proportion of women in the civil service to 50%.
Education leads to transformation.
More Cambodian female students now have access to education. According to the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport’s 2021 education congress report, 48% of primary school students enrolled in Cambodian public schools were female (49.4 per cent for private schools).
Female students accounted for 52.5 percent of students in public lower secondary schools (51.3 percent in private schools), and 54.7 percent of students in public upper secondary schools (51.2 per cent for private schools).
In higher education, female students made up 50.8 percent of the total student population of 201,900 in the academic year 2019-2020. These figures point to an increase in female student enrollment at various levels of schooling. A high enrollment rate for female students surely inspires promise for the future of an inclusive and sustainable Cambodian society.
The role of the government
Cambodia’s national agency for promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment is the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA) and the Cambodian National Council for Women (CNCW).
MoWA serves as a catalyst and advocate for public institutions, civil society, and the commercial sector to incorporate gender equality into their policies and programmes, as well as a coordinator and facilitator for gender mainstreaming throughout government. It is in charge of monitoring and assessing policies and programmes to determine their contribution to the government’s goals of promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The following are some simple ways to empower women that we should all promote at home and in the community:
- The first and most important is education. Give your daughters the same schooling you do your sons. (It’s shocking to see how it’s still not the norm in some parts of the world!)
- Teach girls about money early on in their lives. A woman who is financially secure is an empowered woman.
- Women should be involved in decision-making. This includes making decisions at home.
- Encourage women to participate and communicate in all aspects of their lives, whether at home or at work.
- Make safe venues for women so that they can participate successfully and share the issues they confront.
It’s encouraging to see how society is shifting toward an open culture, with open minds agreeing and understanding the value of every member of society. It is broadly accepted that full participation of both men and women is necessary for development.
“I can promise you that women working together – linked, informed and educated – can bring peace and prosperity to this forsaken planet.” : Isabelle Allende
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).