Siem Reap provincial governor Tea Seiha said the province plans to create child care centre for provincial officials as well as a canteen for officials who live far away.

Seiha spoke at an event for International Women’s Day at Siem Reap provincial hall held early this week with approximately 100 participants.

Seiha said that the government has been supporting and encouraging the participation of all ministries and institutions for social progress towards enhancement of rights, living conditions, status and roles of women as well as social welfare by preventing and reducing violence and solving conflicts peacefully.

He added that women were the backbone of socio-economic development and that gender mainstreaming was intersectional work to ensure the sustainability of peace and development, as defined in the fourth phase of the “Rectangular Strategy” for job growth, equity and efficiency in building infrastructure towards the success of Cambodia’s vision 2030 as a country with a high middle income and a high income country by 2050.

“Without peace, we cannot develop all sectors as today. Rights and values of peace have made Cambodia develop until today. To ease the burden of women as officials, employees and workers in the Siem Reap provincial administration, in the future, we will create child care centres for provincial hall’s officials and canteens for officials who live far way,” he said.

Rights group ADHOC’s spokesman Soeung Sen Karuna said that creating child care centres for officials was a positive idea but that it should be expanded upon.

Sen Karuna said that it shouldn’t happen only in Siem Reap province and the leaders of other provinces should consider this issue to facilitate work for staff members who have small children so that they could work in the institution and take care of their children as well.

“In addition to creating child care centres, there should consider giving them time to breastfeed their children during working hours as well,” he said.

He continued that if they create childcare centres they must have qualified caregivers there to make sure that their children are safe so that they could fulfil their respective duties effectively.

“In general, I am satisfied with such an arrangement, which some of our civil society organizations have also considered. Thus, it is a contribution to enhancing women’s rights to alleviate their burdens, both for her opportunity to serve the institution and everyone benefits.

“On the other hand, I think that it shouldn’t only be in Siem Reap province or only one provincial administration, but all of them should do so,” he said.

According to the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), in 2010 Cambodia was the country with the highest rate of breastfeeding, up to 74 per cent of infants under the age of six months. However, four years later in 2014 the breastfeeding rate had dropped to 65 per cent and continued to decrease until 51 per cent in 2022.

The drops have been attributed to misleading advertising by infant formula companies and to the shifting nature of work for women which has many of them working outside the home and often in other provinces or even other countries while their children are cared for by relatives, the survey found.