The Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Plan International Cambodia (PIC) expressed their joint commitment to empowering girls to make decisions about their own bodies and participate in the nation’s development through their joint project on leadership, with the expectation that by 2026 approximately 2.5 million girls throughout the country will have benefited from it.

The ministry and PIC held a mid-year reflection workshop on their girls’ leadership programme on February 14 in Siem Reap province. The workshop was a forum for partner organisations and institutions to exchange notes on their progress, challenges and their experiences with the project’s implementation to date.

The leadership project is a programme that focuses on adolescent girls aged 12-17 and young women aged 18-25 who live in rural and urban areas. It was launched in 2021 and is scheduled to wrap up in 2026.

PIC deputy country director Yi Kimthan told The Post on February 14 that the mid-year reflection workshop aimed to update everyone on the project’s progress, implementation and address some key challenges as well as give a platform for sharing experiences, gather input for designing future activities for the project and address barriers to improving the project’s quality.

“Our common goal is to empower girls, especially adolescents and young women, and promote their voices in all their diversity and support them in gaining the knowledge, skills and confidence that they need to fulfil their rights and reach their full potential. We want to empower girls to make their own decisions about their bodies and participate in development,” he said.

He expressed his organisation’s commitment to contribute to training girls on empowerment and encourage them to take leadership roles and be active citizens and to build and use network agents and their resources to transform the inequalities of power relations in Cambodia.

“Supporting young people is key to ensuring that their efforts are able to strengthen the capacity and development of the community, achieve goals and the ability to organise their personal lives and social reality,” he said.

Sar Sineth, deputy director-general of Social Development at the women’s affairs ministry, said officials have implemented this programme with partners in the communes of three targeted provinces: Siem Reap, Stung Treng and Ratanakkiri.

In addition to the programme, there is also a campaign for equal opportunities for girls and for the reduction of marriage and pregnancy at an early age among indigenous women in Ratanakkiri province.

She said the next event for the project is the quarterly meeting for reflection on the implementation of activities and solving challenges encountered by the working groups. The meeting would discuss the next plans for implementation with support from the commune councils and participation from the ministry’s working group and the PIC team.