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Shortfalls noted for women in politics

At a celebration of International Women’s Day yesterday, Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) vice president Kem Sokha said women play key roles in the Kingdom’s development, but noted that women in his own party still lack total equality.

About 200 people came to LyLa restaurant in Phnom Penh for a program titled Hundreds of thousands of lights for women, at which opposition politicians spoke about the progress women have made in politics, and how far they still need to go.

Sokha noted a study that says children receive about 70 per cent of their influence from their parents, and that children tend to be closer to their mothers than fathers. But women’s influence in politics remains lacking in the CNRP and Cambodian politics overall.

“Women must go through three stages in order to enter politics and to be successful in this realm,” Sokha told attendees of the presentation. “First, they must gain knowledge and understanding of society – knowledge is light that will never be dark from understanding; second, they must overcome social discrimination; and the last is that women must be able to financially support themselves.”

CNRP lawmaker Mu Sochua also acknowledged the lack of women in her own party at the event yesterday. Of 55 opposition party lawmakers in the National Assembly, only seven are women, Sochua said.

But even though only 12 per cent of National Assembly lawmakers, and 10 per cent of civil servants on the local level are women, many of them hold positions of higher influence than in the past, she added.

“Although there are fewer women in our party, we are in positions where we hold specialties; for example, I am in charge of women’s issues, Mrs Ly Sreyvina is in charge of health and Mrs Tioulong Saumura is in charge of the economic sector,” Sochua said. “Our party urges more women to join politics and public work, but we need quality rather than quantity.”

While increases of women in politics and civil service are still necessary, Chu Bun Eng, a senior official in the Cambodia People’s Party, said in an interview yesterday that women’s roles in politics have grown significantly.

“If we compare from year to year, the number of women participating in social work is increasing rapidly,” Bun Eng said.

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