The Asian Development Bank needs to be more involved in helping Cambodia implement gender equality policies in order to “tap the economic potential” for women and close “sizable gender equality gaps”, an internal evaluation has found.
The assessment, conducted by the ADB’s Independent Evaluation Department, looked at the regional development bank’s support for gender equality and country development. It found that financial resources and training of staff on gender issues are critically needed.
It found that, despite progress, large gaps persist in addressing gender equality in Cambodia.
Ros Sopheap, the executive director of Gender and Development of Cambodia, said addressing such shortfalls would not be difficult if policymakers prioritised them. “It’s easy to monitor to see if the policy works or not,” she said. “If we want to catch up, [policymakers] need to see it as important, not just [pay] lip service.”
The Ministry of Women Affairs operates with a relatively small budget, at $12.4 million this year.
“As a poor country, there is considerable competition for scarce resources and traditional attitudes and deeply embedded social norms have combined with scarcity to create significant gender gaps,” the evaluation reads.
“In addition, in Cambodia, women remain disadvantaged in terms of most indicators lacking human capital, decent employment, access to resources and facing cultural barriers to their progression.”
One example cited in the evaluation is disparity by gender in upper secondary and tertiary education and in employment wages in all sectors.
Ministry of Women Affairs spokesman Pon Putborei and an ADB representative didn’t respond to requests for comment.