Woman diplomats often carry a heavier burden than their male counterparts, as in addition to their work they often find domestic tasks take up much of their time, said foreign minister Prak Sokhonn.

Sokhonn made the remarks on March 3, ahead of the 112th International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8. This year, “Women together to preserve peace for development in the digital age” has been selected as the theme for celebrations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

He said that – in line with the government’s promotion of gender equality – the ministry has always paid close attention to encouraging its female staff. It selects staff for positions, including foreign postings, on the basis of their ability, seniority and qualifications, regardless of gender.

There are currently 288 woman diplomats, more than a third of the 745 employed by the ministry. The figure, Sokhonn said, demonstrates the ministry’s commitment to gender equality.

“The ministry also encourages diplomats who are spouses to carry out their missions in the same country, so as to keep their families together as much as possible,” he said.

“Cambodian men and women are actively and equally engaged with people of other countries in the region and the world to build a peaceful, stable, resilient, prosperous and sustainable economic community,” he added.

He noted that the Cambodian woman officers taking part in UN peacekeeping missions in war-torn nations are an excellent example of the heroism Cambodian women are capable of.

At present, women make up over 15 per cent of the peacekeeping forces deployed by Cambodia to some of the most crisis-hit countries on the planet, including Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, Central African Republic (CAR), Lebanon, Mali, Cyprus and Yemen.