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Number of women in politics back in focus

Princess Norodom Arun Rasmey, president of the royalist Funcinpec party
Princess Norodom Arun Rasmey, president of the royalist Funcinpec party, after casting her vote in the national elections in July. Heng Chivoan

Number of women in politics back in focus

Finding out why women’s voices are not being listened to is imperative to increasing the proportion of female political representation in Cambodia, a meeting heard yesterday.

The Committee to Promote Women in Politics (CPWP) – which is made up of 12 organisations – hosted discussions in the capital that included discussion about the importance of having a legislative population that is at least 25 per cent female, one of Cambodia’s Millenium Goals.

“We meet, this time, to make plans for the future, to increase the number of women and find out why their voices are not paid attention to,” said Ros Sopheap, chief executive of Gender and Development Cambodia and CPWP president. “If we do not demand, they will not give us our demand.”

Women claimed just over 20 per cent of the 123 National Assembly seats in July’s national election, Sopheap said.

Adding women to the positions of secretaries of state and under-secretaries of state Labour Ministry in the fourth and fifth mandate was a step in the right direction, said a report by election watchdog the Committee for Free and Fair Elections.

But women in positions of power typically hold only deputy positions, giving them less power, Sopheap said.

Khim Chamroeun, secretary of state at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, chaired a separate meeting yesterday.

In a speech, Chamroeun said that, in fact, the fifth mandate includes up to 36 female secretaries of state at ministries following only 16 during the previous mandate, she said.

“From mandate to mandate, there is a change and advancement for women at every level,” Chamroeun said.

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