Since the establishment of the Cambodian Humanitarian Mine Action Programme in 1992, more than 8,000 Cambodians have participated in demining activities.

The 8,302 officers, 580 of them women, have embarked on 11 missions to nine countries: Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, the Central African Republic (CAR), Lebanon, Mali, Syria, Cyprus and Yemen. Cambodian forces are currently serving in four countries: South Sudan, Lebanon, CAR and Mali.

Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), revealed the figure during a November 13 roundtable discussion on Women, Peace and Security, in cooperation with Canada, in Phnom Penh.

He said many organisations have declared their commitment to promoting women into leadership roles, but systemic barriers are still holding them back. Women are still struggling in many industries, and are underrepresented in leadership positions. Change needs to be driven by people, as much as by policy, he added.

“I see the important role of Canada in leading and supporting projects in Cambodia and the region, especially in promoting women and encouraging them to share in decision-making with their male colleagues,” said Thuch.

He thanked the government and people of Canada for their participation in demining work in Cambodia, adding that the Kingdom will be pleased to welcome their return as major donors in the sector.

During the discussion, Thuch highlighted the Kingdom’s leading role in promoting women in the field of demining and peacekeeping.

“Cambodia is the highest-ranked state in 2021 in terms of implementing gender and diversity considerations in its survey and demining programme, setting a good example for other states or parties which are affected by mines,” he said, citing an independent report released ahead of the forthcoming meeting of the Ottawa Convention.

According to the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces (NPMEC), in the past 16 years, Cambodia has achieved many remarkable results, particularly in demining, destroying unexploded ordnance (UXO) and the construction of structures in high-risk mission areas.

The work of Cambodian heroines in 2022 continues to rank second in the ASEAN community and 12th out of 120 of the nations whose troops participate in UN peacekeeping missions.