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Parties wrestle with imbalance

Parties wrestle with imbalance

WHILE Cambodia's three major political parties have separate women's wings, the

actual representation of women in the Kingdom's political sphere is still a fraction

of that of men.

In a country in which females outnumber males and many households are headed by women,

the 122-member National Assembly has only 14 women members, of whom only two hold

ministerial portfolios. In the 61 seat Senate, only eight are held by women.

Neang Sovann, monitoring agent for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, blames

the "gun culture" of the past 30 years for politically marginalizing women.

While spokespersons of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and Funcinpec expressed

support for the idea of guaranteed quotas that reserved between 30-40 percent of

elected political positions for women, neither party has concrete plans to achieve

those targets and said the nominations would depend on availability of "suitable"

candidates.

The CPP says the proof of their commitment to increasing female representation in

politics can be seen in its four appointed female commune chiefs in Phnom Penh -

the only female commune chiefs out of 1,606 nationwide.

Privately, CPP and Funcinpec spokespersons say they can not implement such a quota

system until women are adequately educated and empowered to achieve positions of

authority and men accept them as equal partners.

The Sam Rainsy Party, in contrast, unveiled a "shadow cabinet" on May 16

in which 50% of the 14 members were women.

"That itself is indicative of our party's commitment to the cause of not just

gender equality but also the faith in the capabilities of women," party leader

Sam Rainsy said.

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