Government officials and development partners gathered yesterday in the capital to discuss ways to reduce inequality between women and men in the Kingdom, as Cambodia works toward achieving the gender objectives outlined in the Millennium Development Goals.
Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi, who spoke at the day-long conference, titled “Promoting Gender Equality Toward Achievement of Cambodian Millennium Development Goals”, highlighted the importance of education in reducing inequality.
“While we are progressing well in terms of school enrolment of young girls, one in every three adult Cambodian women is illiterate. This is a huge handicap in terms of improving human capital and productivity,” she said.
Touch Sophoan, an official representing the International Labour Organisation, said women were more likely than men to end up in low-skilled, low-paying jobs that often had unhealthy and unsafe working environments.
“With the small incomes from these jobs, Cambodian women have a serious burden in making ends meet and supporting their families. It’s not enough to meet their needs,” he said.
Touch Sophoan said roughly 300,000 women each year abandoned their studies to search for jobs to help support their families.
Ing Kantha Phavi said that to solve these problems, it was imperative that the government work closely with its development partners.
A collaborative approach with those partners, using a combination of policies and programs, as well as increased spending in areas such as women’s education, vocational training and entrepreneurship skills would be necessary to uphold gender equality in the workplace, she said.
United Nations Development Program Cambodia country director Elena Tischenko also called for scaling up investments in women and girls, replicating policies that she said had been effective in other countries throughout the region.