An exhibition featuring photos of the Cambodian garment industry opened at the Bophnana Audiovisual Resource Centre in Phnom Penh yesterday.
The aid organisation Agence Française de Développement is displaying the photographs until Sunday as part of Objective Development: New Visions of the South, an exhibition about AFD’s work in seven countries.
André Pouillés Duplaix, AFD country director based in Cambodia and Laos, says the organisation, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary, launched its Cambodian office in 1993. AFD has worked on various agriculture, agro-industry, irrigation, water and electricity infrastructure projects in urban and rural areas, and vocational training in the tourism and garment industry.
André says the garment sector plays an important role in improving the Cambodian economy.
“The garment sector in Cambodia is linked to the international market, and almost 100 per cent of the Cambodian product is exported,” he says.
“We sponsored a social dialogue between garment bosses and workers, who are mainly women, in order to improve their working conditions.”
The photos of the Cambodian garment factory were taken by Belgian photographer John Vink.
“All the photographs about garment factories in Cambodia are in black and white,” André says. “This was the choice of the photographer.
“It wasn’t our choice. I imagine the photographer knows it’s better to show it that way.”
Nineteen of the photos on show are about Cambodia and capture images of women garment workers sewing in factories, talking by phone to their families, resting and leaving work after a long day.
The photos reveal the hygiene and safety conditions that many women have to endure in these factories, André says.
AFD has also worked on many development projects in Colombia, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Guinea, the Palestinian territories and Indonesia.
AFD’s contribution to Cambodia between 1993 and 2010 was $186 million.
The free exhibition will be held at the Bophnana Audiovisual Resource Centre, # 64, Street 200, until Sunday.