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Working moms get air time

Working moms get air time

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.

A woman

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

family.

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.

For a

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.

The

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

society."

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

especially popular.

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.

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