In celebration of 109th International Women’s Day which fell on March 8, Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Wednesday suggested that more women be included in decision-making roles to ensure greater gender equality.
He said over the past years, the government had aimed to appoint at least one woman to hold a provincial leadership role as governor or deputy governor as a matter of principle.
Hence, he expressed hope that at least two women would be promoted to these positions in future to support a better balance and gender equality.
“According to the leadership principles outlined by Samdech [Hun Sen], we continue to pay attention and promote women to participate at a higher level of leadership. Women have equal rights to make decisions.
“We can now move a step further. Previously we said we wanted at least one woman to hold a leadership role in the provinces. Now, we dare say that at least two women are to be included in such leadership roles.
“The idea is for positions at sub-national administrative level roles to be filled by women across the capital, provinces, towns/districts and communes,” he said.
However, Sar Kheng said that having women in leadership positions at the commune level depended on the political parties in place after the elections.
He proposed that in principle at least two women are to be included in such leadership positions every five years.
“I think that perhaps we can do it. It should not be too difficult,” he said.
He also complimented Sweden on its gender equality efforts, after the country realised 50:50 parity, becoming the first country in the world to do so.
As the measure to promote women to leadership roles, Sar Kheng said the Interior Ministry had cracked down on suspected instances of paperwork tampering which resulted in selective promotions into top positions, usually benefitting men.
“Some of our officials are very good at tampering with paperwork or seeking intervention from [high-ranking] officials to gain promotion for themselves or others,” he said.
He added that there were instances where officials orchestrated a department move in anticipation of a leader in the new department retiring, putting themselves or others in position to be promoted.
He said such tampering caused problems in the system, as it meant people who should have been considered for the position were not, including women.
Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi said at the event that the number of women in decision-making roles had increased across the board in public, political and judicial sectors.
She said that in the public function sector, the number of women had increased from 32 per cent in 2007 to 41 per cent last year. The result was attributed to the Ministry of Civil Service’s recruitment guidance.
Kantha Phavi said there is now one woman governor, 26 women provincial deputy governors, six women town and district governors and 194 women deputy town and district governors in the Kingdom.
She also said the Kingdom had four women ambassadors and a woman deputy prime minister.
In the Kingdom, women ministers had increased from zero in 1993 to three last year. Women secretaries of state had increased from zero in 1993 to 53 last year, and women under-secretaries of state were up from two to 70 in the same period.
The executive director of NGO Silaka, Thida Khus, said the plan to incorporate women in decision-making roles hasn’t been implemented properly because some of the promoted women had reached mandatory retirement age.
“Promoting women to the role of decision-makers is difficult without political will. The government has to decide on the percentage of women it wants to include in leadership roles. Otherwise, its policy of having more women in such roles would not be effective,” she said.