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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - A look at women’s role in Cambodia's political life

A look at women’s role in Cambodia's political life

Social inequality, traditional family roles and financial woes might be the most recognised constraints holding women back from political positions, but other measures like getting gender into the curriculum could help turn things around, a regional congress heard yesterday.

Over the next two days, Siem Reap will continue hosting the regional Congress on Women’s Political Participation, a forum organised by Spanish NGO Paz y Desarollo (PyD) with the Cambodian government.

About 150 participants will take part in the discussions, with partner countries Vietnam, the Philippines, East Timor and Bangladesh comparing their progress in getting women into positions of power.

According to UN figures, Cambodia still takes a back seat to even East Timor, the poorest nation in Asia, when it comes to the the percentage of Cambodian females holding political office.

Minister of Women Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi, herself one of the minority of senior female government position holders, said it was well-accepted that higher numbers of women in parliament and the public and private sectors meant greater advancement of women’s issues in general.

But the Kingdom’s figures have  improved compared to 20 years ago, she said.

“Recently the number of women in parliament increased,” she said, pointing out that only five per cent of seats filled in 1993 were women.

That figure has more than quadrupled, to 21 per cent, today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Thik Kaliyann at



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