Her Royal Highness,
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mrs. Thoraya Ahmed Obeth, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations and Executive Manager of UNFPA,
Distinguished National and International Guests
Today is an auspicious day for Cambodian women as well as those women around the world who are celebrating the 97thAnniversary of the International Women Day of 8 March to commemorate the active efforts of women to overcome obstacles and challenges in order to improve their rights, empowerment, social position, responsibility and living standards. Moreover it is also the time to make a joint commitment towards helping women getting out of the state of vulnerability and to bring harmony and hopes into their lives.
On behalf of my wife and myself, I am delighted and very excited to join in this celebration with all Cambodian women and at the presence of Mrs. Thoraya Amed Obeth, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations and Executive Manager of UNFPA.
The Royal Government and all women of Cambodia as well as those around the world have focused on attaining empowerment, social services and legal protection for women who are members of our society and potential human capital to promote the whole nation towards security, morality, dignity and prosperity. In this spirit, the Royal Government of Cambodia considers the enhancement of social status of women and gender equality not only the matter of social justice and equity, but also the matter of providing opportunities to women, for them to be able to participate and involve in various social activities to generate a binding force and power in order to help developing the nation and society toward prosperity and sustainable progress.
Moreover, women empowerment is the key factor which ensures the progress in all sectors and it is also the mean to pave way for providing the opportunities to Cambodian women now and in the future in order for them to be able to develop themselves with knowledge, knowhow, ability, professional talent and broader communication within the family, society, nation and the globe which is the best way to promote Cambodian women’s honor in the present and in the future.
While we are in this new millennium, the Khmer women have received means and resources as well as the acknowledgment on their roles and functions in the society. This is clearly reflected by the Gender Mainstreaming of the Royal Government toward promoting Gender Equity. The Royal Government of Cambodia is at the front line if compared with our neighboring countries. Actually we have national policies and clear strategies which exactly defined in the Rectangular Strategy for growth, employment, equity and efficiency in Cambodia in which accounts that Women are the back bone of Socio-Economic Development.
The above strategies focused on Gender Equity in the socio-economic development process through developing women capacity, changing social attitude of discriminating against women and to ensure the right and opportunities to receive access to health care, education, vocational training, economic resources and the opportunities to contribute equally in the socio-economic development as well as receiving fair legal protection to avoid women from violence, human trafficking, rape and other forms of violence. Furthermore, the most important part of this work is to concentrate on increasing the proportion of women participation in national institutions at all levels from the central to local level.
I would like taking this opportunity to strongly endorse the most active strategy of promoting women participation in the upcoming communal-district election in order to increase the number of women representative in the decision making process.
Meanwhile the Royal Government of Cambodia has released many other key documents such as the Cambodia Millennium Development Goals, National Strategic Development Plan, Institutional Policy and Plan to respond to the need of women in all sectors in implementing the Beijing Action Plan that has been reviewed and edited during the last committee meeting for promoting women’s status and other related meetings of the United Nations in New York City.
Moreover, the Royal Government has already established another new mechanism in addition to the Ministry of Women Affairs, calls the Cambodia National Council for Women which has Her Majesty, the Queen Mother of Khmer, Norodom Monineath Sihanouk as the honorable Chair to support and enhance the promotion of status, ranking, role and social wellbeing for all Cambodian women which aimed at eliminating and eventually eradicating all forms of discrimination against women as well as violence against women and children. Recently, the Cambodia National Council for Women has successfully finished its 2006 stock-taking and direction setting for 2007 meeting. In addition to that, we also have another technical working group calls the Gender Technical Working Group, a group among other 18 groups of the Royal Government.
This group has the mission to facilitate and advocate the preparation and implementation of mechanism and strategies onMainstreaming Gender into all policies and programs at the national level and at related sectoral level, monitor the progress and commitment of other technical working groups, searching for flaws to address the issue of Gender Gap and enhancing the commitment and capacity of the Royal Government and development partners. The implementation of the public expenditure reform program which focused on priority sectors is also the key toward achieving success in the implementation of Royal Government’s policies in social sector and poverty reduction among the people, especially, to develop women capacity.
At the same time, the Royal Government has also paid tremendous attention on Good Governance which is the necessary ingredient for socio-economic development and to ensure sustainable social justice through the Good Governance Action Plan which includes the idea of establishing equity among men and women.
According to the stock taking report of Her Excellency Eung Kuntha Phavy, the minister of ministry of Women Affairs, a moment ago, It shows that the ministry has successfully implemented the 5-year Neary Ratanak Strategic Plan to address the challenging issues faced by women. Taking this opportunity, I would like to sincerely praise the great achievements resulting from the united and cooperative efforts of the ministry, related ministries, civil society and development partners. I support all actions that promote Cambodian women’s status, living condition, role and responsibility in order for them to get out of the vulnerability state of being poor and toward bravery, prosperity and to become valuable human resource for the country.
I would also like to strongly support the notion of “providing opportunity and supporting women to become leaders”, in which the ministry of Women Affairs and the committee that organizes this forum have raised this year. This is a proposal and commitment which we must make for the benefit of women in general as well as for those women who are members of our family. Indeed, women’s voice which reflect their true desires as the family caretakers, managers, and suppliers must be made cleared in the national development plan at all levels, especially, in the commune-village development plan for poverty elevation which often resulted from their poor economic status, poor health, poor knowledge and poor role and responsibility in society.
On behalf of the Royal Government, I am very proud because we have up to 1056 women across the country representing the commune-district council during the last term. I hope that in this up coming election in April, the number of women as members of commune-district council will increase even more because of women commitment in political parties and the support from all voters.
In this profound occasion, I am very delighted because this year, the committee for international women forum has selected women who are champions in developing our country as role models for others and as the encouragement for themselves to develop the sense of struggle and to double their efforts in fulfilling their duties which finally bring common benefit to the country. Taking this opportunity, I would like to congratulate all the achievements made and sincerely praise this outstanding performance. I strongly believe that Cambodia will have more and more women who can set good examples for others in the future.
Moreover, the number of women who are involved in politic and national decision making process has also gradually increased. We have some women who are the decision makers in politic and administration. For instance, we have women who are the senior minister, minister, in the executive, legislative, and judicial power, government officials, in the lower level of administrative management structure, and at the provincial, municipal, communal and district level. Regardless, the Royal Government has acknowledged that there are still more works that need to be done together in order to make those women with positions to feel that their roles are important and provide the same status as their male counterparts in term of daily task, support, respect, choice, encouragement, education and all other types of job.
In this spotlight, in order to encourage and enhance women’s status in the economy and society, the Royal Government has suggested that it is essential to recruit more women as government officials. That is because there are many female government officials who are champions and deserve to be promoted and receive sincere gratitude from their spouses, leaders and all the relevant parties.
At the same time, I recognize that it is essential for women themselves to pay more attention on enhancing their education and sharpen their talent. In this sense, the Royal Government has paid high attention on providing opportunity for young girls to get high school education and continue on to tertiary education through the national education policy on Education For All And All For Education. With regard to this policy, we expect to have many more educated women who are capable of helping to further enhance women’s status in the society, politic, economic and social arena. We have noticed that until now Cambodia has many educated women with high degrees such as: BAs, Masters, Doctor and Honorary Doctor. Therefore, I have great hope that the number of educated Cambodian women will gradually increase and they are able to contribute to the development of Cambodia toward prosperity like other developed nations in the world.
Taking this opportunity, in providing support and opportunity for women to become leaders, I would like to raise some recommendations as follows:
1. The Ministry of Women Affairs and the Ministry of Information must continue working together in disseminating news on education and open communication to explain the importance of providing the opportunity and support for women to become leaders, especially, at the provinces, cities, communes, and districts.
2. All relevant line ministries must continue to support and advocate women leadership at the national, local and community levels.
3. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and Ministry of Works and Vocational Training must guarantee equal opportunity for women in receiving education, training, and capacity building, especially on vocational training and employment opportunity.
4. All the line ministries and institutions must support women candidates and support those capable women to vote and be voted for certain positions.
5. All the line of ministries and institutions must provide opportunity and support for women participation in implementing various activities, especially, participating in the discussion forum for women.
6. All the line of ministries and institutions must widely acknowledge the accomplishments of women at the national, local and community levels to show that women are capable in playing a role as a superior leader as their male counterparts in the development of all sectors.
Again, I would like to express my deepest thanks to Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, development partners, private and public sectors and national and international organization for all their supports and collaborations with Ministry of Women Affairs, Cambodia National Council for Women and all relevant line ministries in providing security, safety, and social development to promote Cambodia women. I would like to pledge that this great collaboration will continue on infinitely to better achieve the common objective of poverty reduction for our people.
I would like to also express my deepest appreciation to Mrs. Thoraya Amed Obeth, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations and Executive Manager of UNFPA for participating in this special occasion along with Cambodian women and the people of Cambodia. Finally, I would like to wish Her Royal Highness, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, especially all the Cambodian women with the Five Gems of Buddhist Blessings.