Journalism is a man’s world in Cambodia, so one of the Kingdom’s few female journalists is hoping to establish a club to help mentor young women in the industry and shift the male dominance of the profession.
“I have had this plan in mind for many years and I have also asked some other women journalists about the idea of creating a place or opportunity to meet and help each other and share experiences,” said Phuong Thida, deputy director of international news for Cambodian National Television (KTV).
Many young journalists still lack knowledge and professional skills, and such an organization could help train them in reporting and gathering information, she said.
“There are about 400 journalists in Cambodia and of this number only a few are women –maybe only two or three out of ten,” said Ministry of Information chief information officer Pok Hak, adding that he supported the idea of a club for female journalists.
The newspaper Koh Santepheap, for instance, has 13 journalists on staff in Phnom Penh and 33 in other provinces. Among all of them, only one is a woman.
Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith also threw his support behind the club, saying he would provide it with training and funds, while Pen Samithy, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists and editor-in-chief of Cambodia’s largest Khmer-language newspaper, Rasmei Kampuchea, encouraged more women to join the profession.
The Club of Cambodia Journalists has about 155 members nationwide, of whom only 12 are women.
“This is a good idea because it demonstrates women’s determination and abilities in Cambodia, where we don’t yet have many women reporters,” said Samithy, adding, however, that he would rather women join existing women’s organizations rather set establish a new club.
“I don’t want to compete with men and I will not get any personal benefit from other women reporters,” Thida said. “I just want all of us to meet and teach others about what we know.”
Tum Chita, a reporter with the monthly magazine Khmer New Era, said she was “strongly interested in the idea,” but others were less enthusiastic.
“I am not sure whether I would participate,” said Ung Chansophea, a reporter with the newspaper Cambodge Soir.
But Chansophea said such an organization would guide more women to become journalists. “Many women would like to be reporters but don’t know how to go about it,” she said.