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Gender gains lacking: report

Cambodian women are bumping up against a steadfast glass ceiling, according to an annual report by the Cambodian National Council for Women.

The report, released yesterday, tracks what the government has done to execute the prime minister’s 16 recommendations regarding women’s access to and engagement in civil society.

In education and politics, the council found women’s involvement still lags behind that of their male counterparts.

“At the national level, there is an insufficient number of women [lawmakers] compared to the government’s plan,” the report states.

Cambodia’s UN Millennium Development Goals aim for women to make up 25 per cent of lawmakers at the commune level and 30 per cent at the national level by the year 2015.

Yet women politicians made up just 16 per cent of commune level representatives last year, less than a two per cent increase from 2007, the report says.

Ros Sopheap, executive director of Gender and Development for Cambodia, was sceptical that Cambodia could achieve gender parity in politics in time to meet the millennium target.

“Political parties are not willing to put women candidates high on the election list,” Sopheap said, adding that women still battle social stereotypes just to become a candidate.

Last year, only one woman, representing 0.09 per cent of doctoral students, obtained a PhD. Since 2011, the number of women master’s students has risen just 0.15 per cent per year.

“There have been many social changes in Cambodia, and parents are more willing to send their girls to school.… At the primary level there is no disparity. We hope in the future the trend will continue,” said Hang Chuon Naron, minister of education, adding that more scholarships would target female higher education students.

Officials at the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Women Affairs declined to comment.

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