Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Oxfam calls for maternity benefit plan

Oxfam calls for maternity benefit plan

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A pregnant woman leaves work after her shift in Phnom Penh last April. Heng Chivoan

Oxfam calls for maternity benefit plan

Oxfam has renewed its call for a national policy in Cambodia to ensure that all women workers are given equal access to maternity care.

The international NGO made the call as it wrapped up its three-month maternity protection campaign. The digital “Every Mother Counts” campaign that began on May 1 is now coming to a close after raising awareness in ASEAN countries about the issues faced by working mothers – especially women working in the informal economy, who account for an estimated 90 per cent of the women in the labour force in Cambodia.

In a press release issued on September 15, Oxfam said due to these women’s informal employment status they do not have access to any maternity protection benefits, which makes them more vulnerable to sickness and prone to chronic poverty.

“Through this campaign, Oxfam and partners aimed to engage the public, employers and businesses and national policymakers in discussions about ensuring that all women workers in Cambodia can access maternity protection,” it said.

Oxfam called on the government to better align laws and policies to establish benchmarks in what they call the five core areas: maternity leave; cash and medical benefits; health protections at the workplace for mothers and their children during pregnancy and breastfeeding; employment protection and non-discrimination; and breastfeeding arrangements.

“When our mothers, sisters, and wives are healthy and secure, we are also healthy and secure. But when they become sick, are injured at work, or fall into poverty because we do not support them during pregnancy, childbirth, and early child-raising, our families and societies also suffer,” Oxfam Cambodia country director Lim Solinn was quoted as saying.

Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation spokesman Touch Channy said the ministry had implemented policies to help the poor during the Covid-19 crisis including increased protections for pregnant women and children under the age of five.

“Programmes for providing maternity protections to women workers in the informal economy fall under the purview of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, which has been paying more attention to this issue recently,” he said.

Labour ministry spokesman Heng Sour said on September 15 that officials have been working to establish a policy within the framework of the social protection programme to ensure that maternity protection could be provided to women workers in the informal economy.

Social media celebrity Neang Sovathna – known to her fans as DJ Nana – said that as the mother of a new born baby she understood how important it is that women receive this support. She said pregnancy, childbirth and early child-raising are vulnerable periods in many women’s lives.

“Without maternity protection, informal women workers in Cambodia are at an even greater risk, endangering their children and families. If we truly value women in Cambodia, let us do our part to provide maternity protection for all of them, regardless of their labour status,” she said.

Similarly, Miss Universe Cambodia 2020 Sarita Reth said: “Providing comprehensive maternity protection benefits all women, especially those in the informal sector. It will also help bridge some of the gender gaps that impede the country’s socio-economic progress. Strong women make a stronger nation.”

According to the International Labour Organisation’s data, an estimated 87.5 per cent of all workers in Cambodia can be classified as informal and do not regularly have access to social protection benefits such as maternity protection.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement