The social morality committees of the education and culture ministries are teaming up to ensure that Cambodian women uphold traditional morals and values in the digital age.

Hou Nirimita, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, said at a May 30 forum on the promotion of social morality that for Cambodia, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, is a “one-to-one correspondence with artificial intelligence”.

Nirimita – who is also deputy director of the Secretariat of the National Committee for the Promotion of Social Morality and Values of Cambodian Women and Families – said the technological advancements of Industry 4.0 are a double-edged sword.

“As science advances, we must also think about morality, not just the pursuit of riches, which threatens immorality and social degradation,” she said.

The committee focuses on three main principles of moral issues: Mutual respect in society, gender equality in terms of morality, and non-violence.

“What we are concerned by in the Fourth Industrial Revolution is that technological advancements are affecting human morality, causing people to lose their morals, which affects society as a whole because individuals increasingly think only of their personal interests,” she said.

The discussion was held with the goal of raising awareness of these challenges, lessons, experiences and new ideas when it came to moral issues among the Cambodian public, as well as civil servants and youths.

Ork Dararith, a member of the Gender Working Group and a culture ministry official, said that in the digital age, he observed that everyone, including children, could easily find images, videos and movies on social media, some of which contained explicit or otherwise unsavoury content.

“This sowing of negative influence on society causes us to lose dignity, honour, traditions, customs, and leads to the erosion of Cambodia’s beautiful culture,” he said.

In the hopes of minimising the negative impact of social media on society, the culture ministry has also organised workshops for producers and artists – especially entertainment content creators on social media – to educate them on exercising their influence in society, so that they understand their role in promoting morality to their audience.

Dararith said the municipal and provincial culture department has been attempting to raise awareness of what is considered immoral through integrating educational content related to moral behaviours.

He said they are especially focused on the prevention of violence against women and children through the use of performing arts programmes.

Nham Sinit, deputy head of the education ministry’s General Department of Policy and Planning, said education was not only knowledge and skills, but also encompassed the inculcation of good behaviour.

“The education ministry has been providing behavioural education to students since they first entered the education system, teaching them to understand and respect each other and their elders, including their teachers,” he said.