FEMALE entrepreneurs highlighted corruption as the most important issue facing businesswomen in Cambodia, during a meeting Wednesday attended by government officials and international experts.
Around 80 women working in tourism, small and medium enterprises, agriculture, handicrafts and manufacturing joined together at the Intercontinental Hotel in Phnom Penh to discuss their working environment.
Conference participants said that corruption, tax levels and their lack of a coherent voice were among top concerns.
According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), women are underrepresented in official business forums. Although around 62 percent of Cambodian businesses – mostly small enterprises – are owned by women, according to 2008 figures, relatively few attend regular meetings set up between the government and private sector.
“Women entrepreneurs are an enormous untapped resource for economic development. If women’s businesses were able to achieve their potential, they could make much greater contributions to job creation, improving incomes, developing human resources, paying taxes and contributing to economic growth,” said Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi, according to a transcript of her speech.
The forum closed with women volunteering to represent their sectors at official meetings.
Brenda Murphy, a consultant with London-based Law and Development Partnership, who helped present the forum as part of a two-year project in Cambodia, said: “This is the first stage of the process. We are trying a bottom-up approach to seek out the issues.”