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Target calls for more female lawmakers

THE National Assembly and the Senate will need to increase the number of female lawmakers by 9 percent and 17 percent respectively during upcoming elections in order to meet a Millennium Development Goal aimed at improving gender equality, United Nations officials said yesterday.

A target under the gender-equality goal calls for 30 percent of national parliamentary representation to be female. Elections for the Senate in 2012 and the National Assembly in 2013 will be the Kingdom’s last opportunity to achieve this target before the 2015 MDG
deadline.

Speaking at a conference in Phnom Penh yesterday, Douglas Broderick, resident coordinator for the UN Development Programme in Cambodia, said women were underrepresented in high-level leadership and decision-making roles.

“Women make up 52 percent of Cambodia’s population, and yet represent 13 percent of the seats in the Senate, and 21 percent in the National Assembly,” he said.

During her opening remarks at the conference, Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An said the Cambodian People’s Party was committed to improving women’s participation in governance.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia has been taking steps to improve the participation of women at all levels of national institutions,” she said.
But she noted that there were few other female politicians at her level.

Ho Naun, a Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker and head of the National Assembly’s public health committee, said “remarkable progress” had been made towards improving women’s rights in Cambodia.

“We have reached two-thirds of our goal,” she said.

But she added that “more activity from all stakeholders” was required.

Women currently hold eight of the 61 seats in the Senate, and 27 of the 123 seats in the National Assembly. The number of women in the Senate would need to more than double in the next election to reach the 18 seats required to meet the target. An additional 10 women would be needed to reach the National Assembly target of 37.

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