Samdech, Your Royal Highness,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, I and my wife have the great pleasure to participate in the 96th Anniversary of the International Women’s Day, 8thMarch 2006, to commemorate our tireless efforts in overcoming all the impediments to improve the Cambodian women’s rights, their empowerment, their roles and responsibilities, and their living conditions, as well as that of all women around the world, and to reiterate our joint commitment toward achieving this ample objective.
In this auspicious occasion, on behalf of the Royal Government, myself and my wife, I would like to express my sincere admiration for the achievements made by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in promoting the responsibilities and roles of women, especially, in building women’s capacity as well as changing the attitudes and perceptions discriminating against females in the society. This is very crucial in contributing to the development of the economy and society, especially for poverty alleviation and improving the living standards of the people, and this is indeed the main objective of the Royal Government.
Without any doubt, this event is important to remind all of us to always think of and treat the women as members of society and valuable human resource and to question ourselves as to whether women have received every rights, power, social services and protection provided by the laws for them to live in harmony prosperity? In this sense, I strongly support this year’s theme, the “Joint Effort in Promoting the Situation of Women and Family Economy”, proposed by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Committee of this event. This theme also represents our common appeal and commitment to improving the benefits of all the women as well as of all those who are the members of our families. Indeed, the improved living conditions for women are determined by economic situation, health, knowledge, their duties and roles in the society, as well as the ensured security protection. On behalf of the Royal Government, I am very proud to have supported the law on“Preventing Violence and Victims Affairs”, which has been adopted. Indeed, we all agreed that until recently, violence on women is still occurs at all level of society in every country around the world. Violence on women and children which includes both physical and mental abuses within and outside the family circle, women trafficking and rapes are not the only issues for a few individuals but the entire nation because it is the violation on human rights and the constitution. Violence on women in the forms of ferocious tortures and inhuman acts resulted in the loss of dignity and respect for women which force them to live in an unequal status with their male counterparts in the family, community and society which could prevent the women’s participation in the development of living standard, society, economy and the public.
By recognizing the need for promoting gender equality, the Royal Government has made a quick progress forward compared with our neighboring countries because we have our clear national strategy and policy with respect to the implementation of this mission. For instance, we have the “Rectangular Strategy” with a clear objective of enhancing Growth of the economy and creating full Employments for Cambodian workers, promoting Equality and social justice as well as strengthening theEfficiency in the public sector. Through the implementation of various reform programs in the form of deep and comprehensive strategy has also highlighted that “Women is the Backbone” of the economy and our society.
At the same time, in order to critically develop further on the visions which have been stated in this “Rectangular Strategy”, the Royal Government has prepared another important planning document, which is the “National Strategic Development Plan” for the year 2006-2010 which have synthesized the Millennium Development Goals, National Poverty Reduction Strategy (2003-2005), and the Governance Action Plan, which also includes the National Public Administrative Reform. Besides, we also have the policies and plans for specific ministries/institutions in respond to the needs of women in all sectors with practical implementation based on the action plan as stated in the 4th World Women’s Conference, lastly held in Beijing, which have been examined and facilitated in the meeting of the committee in charged on upgrading women’s situation and sub-sequential meetings of the United Nation in New York.
Through the above strategy, the Royal Government aimed at ensuring Gender Equality in the economic and social development process through women’s capacity building, changing social attitude such as the discrimination on women and to ensure the rights and opportunity to receive health care, education, skill training, economic resources and the opportunity to equally participate in the socio-economic development activity as well as receiving protection from the law with justice in order for them to avoid living with violence, trafficking, rapes and other forms of abuses. Another important aspect of this work has been the effort to increase and maximize the proportion of women’s participation at all level in the national institutions, from the middle to local levels.
In the past and in recent times, domestic violence has been recognized by most citizens as the personal and private conflicts of the family only. Indeed, violence is not only a privacy issue for a few individuals but it has strong influence on the whole Khmer society, especially the violent on women and children resulted in the loss of happiness, dignity, mutual respects and equality within the family, as well as community and society which is the obstacle for women’s participation in the social economic development and the violation of human right which is against the Constitution of our country. By recognizing these problems, the Royal Government has mainly aimed at building women’s capacity and changing social traits which resulted in the discrimination against women.
The Royal Government has a strong willingness to eradicate domestic violence and to combat human trafficking. Our goals are to put an end to domestic violence and fight against human trafficking by trying to enforce women protection in the judicial sector and to include regulations on women protection in the state of law, providing equal participation for women in the national building process. In this regard, the Cambodia National Council for Women has been established by having the Queen Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, the Mother of Khmer nation and Honorable Chairwoman, to support and promote the roles, duties and social well-being for Cambodian Women, which aims at reducing and making progress toward eradicating any forms of discrimination against and violence on women. The Cambodia National Council for Women has the obligation to promote and protect women from poverty and from being the victims of any form of abuses. At the same time, we also have a technical working group which is known as the “Technical Working Group on Gender” out of 18 Royal Government’s working groups with the role to facilitate and debate to ensure the preparation and practical mechanism and strategy in order to mainstream gender into all policies and national programs and related sectors include budget allocations, monitoring the progress, commitment of other technical working group, seeking the gap in solving gender gap and increasing the commitment and capability of government and other partners. At the same time, public expenditure reform which gathers on the priority sector is also the key of stepping forward to the success in implementing the policy of Royal Government in social sector and poverty reduction among citizen, especially for women.
The Royal Government has also paid attention to good governance which is an indispensable factor for developing socio-economic and ensuring sustainable social justice, through this governance action plan there is also the inclusion of equality between men and women.
Meanwhile, in the health sector, government has enhanced the awareness of rights in primary health service, especially the sex-related health and prevention, and treatments of HIV/AIDs. Improve the support for gender integrating in the policy and health program by promoting the support activity for responding to the need of youth in reproduction and strengthening mental health services.
In education sector, government has continued to pay attention on enhancing the equality of women’s attending school in all levels, from primary to tertiary education. Extend and improve study programs for children through non-formal education as well as promoting gender equality and morality in education system. In protecting the women’s legal rights, government has enhanced the assurance of equal rights between men and women in face of the law. Prepare the policy for protecting the women’s rights, in particularly against the violence including the standard documents against the trafficking of women and violence. Increase literacy program at the local, provincial, and community level.
At the same time, I have noticed that the Ministry of Women’s Affairs has also implemented, step by step, through the implementation of five years Neary Ratanak I and Neary Ratanak II Strategic Plan in order to solve the critical issues that women are facing. I would like to praise for the strong effort to promote women situation according to Government’s Rectangular Strategy by mainstreaming gender at all sectors and levels, to increase the number of women in decision making at all levels, reducing school drop-outs, increasing the number of women at secondary and tertiary education, establishing any appropriate national program to support the women life-long learning, providing them with an opportunity to receive general health services and economic development by providing vocational training to expand their careers and importantly to help women who are the victims of violence through the enhancement of the existing laws by making those commit the violent be punished by the law and review the existing law and newly-passed law to protect women who are the victims.
On behalf of the Government and myself, I would like to extend my strong support to the educational activities related to the improvement and protection of Cambodian women in order to upgrade the Cambodian women’s situation from vulnerability and poverty and get a head to braveness, prosperity and to become valuable human resource for the country.
In this auspicious day, my wife and I are very exited because this year the International Women’s Day Committee has selected talented women who can build the national reputation and to be role model for other women, to receive the awards today. I would like to congratulate all award winners and admire their great contributions individually and nationally. I strongly hope that there will be more role model women in the future.
I would like to thank the ministries/public institutions, development partners private sectors, social civil, national and international organizations who have supported and closely cooperated with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and related line ministries and institutions with regard to social activities to promote Cambodian women. I would like to take this opportunity to call for a better cooperation in order to alleviate poverty for our people.
On the eve of the 96th Anniversary of 8th March International Women’s Day, I would like to appeal to all Cambodian citizens to commit to this year’s theme: “Our Joint Effort in Promoting the Situation of Women and Family Economy”.
Finally, I wish you all Samdech, Your Royal Highness, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, and especially all the Cambodian women Good Health and Successes in your future endeavors, and the five gems of Buddhist Blessings.