A teacher in Chunea High school in Phnom Penh's Russey Keo
district, teaching a class of nearly 80 students suddenly stops as her baby son,
swinging in a makeshift cloth cradle in front of the classroom begins to wail.
She picks him up, rocks him to sleep and continues to teach.
farmer in Kompong Speu, mother of six children and pregnant with her seventh,
works on her fields, sells fish and looks after her amputee husband and
A doctor at Phnom Penh's Khmer-Soviet hospital works all day at
the hospital and late into the night at her private clinic at home. A widow, she
is caring for her own two children and her orphan niece and nephew.
week before International Women's Day, such ordinary Cambodian women aired their
hopes and problems on national television. What was special this time was that
for the first time, Cambodian women also produced, directed and shot the
documentary, as well as a television play, radio interviews, songs, poems and
discussions, posters and pamphlets for the Women's Day media campaign.
This work was a high point for the Khmer Women's Voice Media Center
(KWVMC), which ran the campaign.
"This is the first major campaign we
have handled," says an excited Yim Chandavy, director of the center, which is
staffed by just four Cambodian women and was set up last December.
popular television play, which Chandavy says is based on the real-life story of
a Cambodian family, dealt with "violence against women in the family and in
The idea for a Cambodian women's media center was born after
the success of the Cambodian Women's Committee for Non-violence and the
Election, for which the first Cambodian women audio-video professionals were
trained. Their campaign employed media to spread awareness about important
national and women's issues during the election.
Documentaries on the
May 1993 elections, the peace march by Maha Ghosananda, and a seven minute video
on the rights that Cambodian women wanted guaranteed in the constitution proved
The KWVMC will now function as a public interest
media center, producing video, radio and other programs on women in development,
health, education, the legal system, environment and human rights for community
development groups and other NGOs.