… As I have seen that HE Ambassador of Japan Gotaro Ogawa is present here, on issue of lodging for under graduate women students, I wish to recall that the Royal Government of Japan has been providing Cambodia a sum of US$ 20 million in grant aid annually for this project. I think that since Japan is paying attention to issue of gender, the request for use of this non-project fund to build lodging for under graduate female students would enjoy acceptance from the latter. I have raised this issue at the beginning of the Royal Government’s term, but have yet to fulfil it as we are in short of budget.
… We have now narrowed down the gap in education between male and female students as we have extended schooling facilities closer to the local communities – both primary and secondary level education. Addressing gender issue could not be attained only by words and writing on papers. We have to be practical in such a way that both men and women would have equal chance for education. What way is it? One important factor is to move schooling facility as close as possible to the local community. Another aspect to be given consideration to is to offer access for female children to go to secondary level education after they finished primary schooling. This used to be a difficult issue because our people would not want their female children to go far away from home at all.
… Furthermore, as practiced in poor families, parents tend to slash their education for the benefit of keeping them look after younger children at home and do housework. This situation allows male children alone to go no with their education. This is a serious imbalance created with loss on women. This issue could be addressed only when we can raise education benefit awareness among parents so that they place equal consideration on female children as if they would do to their boys. Also the policy to relocate the schooling facilities closer to the community has brought about reduction of concerns by parents on their female children going to school.
… As for the city there also has been a wide gap between male and female students. Why? Male students from poor families could find pagoda (Buddhist monk residence) as appropriate lodging for continuing their studies. In Phnom Penh we have hundreds of pagodas and they could house thousands of male students. But as far as female students are concerned, where can they go? They could not stay in pagoda. As pagoda could be considered as lodging for male students, what could be a solution to demand for female ones?
… I wish to have lodging for female students only and I am confident that male students would not be jealous with them at all. May I suggest the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs search for land and build lodging in Phnom Penh for them. We could start with a facility that can accommodate between 300 and 500 female students. I think this step would help address difficulties faced by female students in living condition. It is remarkable to see that best student contest is mostly won by female students. But they have little chance to go up to tertiary education. This is the problem that we have to bring a solution to.
… Gender awareness and appropriate consideration should not be judged by how nice ones talk about it and how well one is writing it. Let’s take an example. There have been demands for women to be elected to the post of heads of commune councils. But the election result has come out with women elected even less than 10%. Why? Well, all political parties in contest placed women candidates at the lower end of the candidate list, which in return would give them too small a chance to be elected. If we were to have placed women candidates on top of listing candidates, they would be elected for sure.
… Back to issue of lodging for female students, I wish to see that it starts first from Phnom Penh and then further regional consideration should be made. If we do not address this problem now, when would we have female citizens, and how many of them, taken positions in the Governments as well as the legislative institutions. Gender inequality would continue to exist. So we have to be ready for future problem, and not only for today. As far as the request made earlier, I think that Japan would give it a close consideration.
… I approve the renovation in bitumen of the 200-meter road in front of the institute and accept to offer 20 computers and ten printers. Just for your information that I have instructed the Phnom Penh municipal to start the renovation of six more road lanes in Phnom Penh…