Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia’s progress on gender equality questioned



Cambodia’s progress on gender equality questioned

Minister of Women’s Affairs and Chairperson of the Cambodian National Council for Women Ing Kantha Phavi presents the council’s annual report at a meeting yesterday. Fresh News
Minister of Women’s Affairs and Chairperson of the Cambodian National Council for Women Ing Kantha Phavi presents the council’s annual report at a meeting yesterday. Fresh News

Cambodia’s progress on gender equality questioned

In its annual report signed yesterday, the Cambodian National Council for Women lauded the government’s efforts to increase gender equality throughout society, though women’s rights activists today raised doubts about the achievements.

The council highlights in the report that the economic and political status of women has improved in the past year – citing examples like the issuance of land titles to “poor women and widows”, for example to evicted residents of the now-demolished White Building.

Last year, hundreds of families left the building in exchange for compensation to make room for development.

The council also highlights improvements in “increasing the number of female civil servants”.

Over the past year, the share of female civil servants increased just 1 percent, to 41 percent. Among them, 24 percent were district, commune or municipal officials, a 2 percent increase compared to 2016.

Thida Khus, executive director of women’s rights NGO Silaka, said that although the government had been paying more attention to gender issues, this effort stalled once the political situation grew tense.

“Because of the political situation, it has come to a standstill,” she said. “We hope that more attention will be given again to gender equality after the elections.”

With the nomination of almost exclusively men to replace the recently dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party’s seats, female representation at the national level has actually dropped.

“It’s very disappointing,” she said. “We are really walking backwards significantly.”

The report also notes that the Ministry of National Defence nominated 86 female officers in 2017, including one major general, and among new National Police recruits, 24 percent were women.

Ros Sopheap, executive director of Gender and Development for Cambodia, said the gains listed by the council were far from sufficient because they only affect lower levels of public life. “Women are employed not at the decision-making level. That’s far more interesting . . . Women are only at the subordinate level,” she said. While the Defence Ministry especially needed reform, she said, so too does the entire political realm.

The report also highlights a requirement that all government institutions and ministries incorporate activities related to gender awareness into their budgets. According to Sopheap, the effort is sound on paper, but the resources to make it happen are lacking. “The policy seems to be enough [in principle], but the implementation is far away . . . The reason is that there is no budget to deal with this,” she said.

Khus agreed, saying that Prime Minister Hun Sen had promised to dedicate significantly more resources to increase gender equality – a promise she said had not been fulfilled. “We are still waiting,” she said.

The report notes that the Ministry of Interior has incorporated gender awareness training into its 2018-2021 action plan, however both Thida and Sopheap said deep reforms in all ministries were needed, which requires more resources.

According to Sopheap, this would also involve hiring more women in positions involved in planning and budget allocation.

Additional reporting by Kong Meta

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Hun Sen: Lakes filled in for national developments

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced continued operations to fill some lakes in Phnom Penh to create land for developments, though he is against the unrelated practice of damming rivers or blocking waterways. Speaking at the inauguration of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport

  • Local media loses a giant, and The Post a great friend

    Cheang Sokha, a gifted and streetwise reporter who rose to the highest ranks of Cambodian media and was beloved for his sharp intelligence, world-class humour and endless generosity, died on Friday in his hometown of Phnom Penh. He was 42. His wife, Sok Sophorn, said he

  • Koh Preus upgrades 70% complete

    Initial construction of a nearly $30 million tourism infrastructure project on Preah Sihanouk province’s Koh Preus Island is “about 70 per cent complete”, according to an official with the developer. Heng Thou, construction site manager of Angela Real Estate Co Ltd (ARE), told The Post that