Your Royal Highnesses,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, I am most honored and pleased to join all of you and preside over this “2005 Stock-taking and set direction for 2006” meeting of the Cambodian National Council for Women (CNCW)” ensuing the high and wise guidance of Her Majesty the Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, the Honorable Chair of the CNCW.
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) and on my own as the Deputy-Chair of the CNCW, I would like to present all the sincere appreciations to the achievements by the CNCW for their contributions in enhancing the role and status of women, especially in building capacity of women, changing discriminating attitudes and perception toward women in the society as well as enhancing courage and promoting equitable participation of women in development at all levels. In this spirit, the important factor is improvement of women’s rights and empowerment in order to allow them to have access to health care, especially reproductive health and to ensure their full rights to education and vocational training at all levels. All of these are most important keys for women’s participation in socio-economic development, poverty reduction and improved livelihood of the people, which constitute the main objective of the RGC.
As I pointed out at the Celebration Ceremony of the 96th Anniversary of the International Women Day, 8th March with the recognition of the need toward promoting “Gender Equality”, the Royal Government (RG) has made a great step forward comparing to neighbouring countries by adopting clear national policy and strategy in conducting this mission. Indeed, we have adopted “The Rectangular Strategy” for growth, employment, equity and efficiency in the public sector. Throughout the implementation of comprehensive and in-depth programmes under this strategy, it has been noted that “Women Are the Backbone of Economy and Society”. At the same time, in order to additionally emphasize the vision embodied in “The Rectangular Strategy”, the RG has formulated an important planning document which is the “National Strategic Development Plan” (NSDP) for 2006-2010. This document is the synthesis of the “Cambodian Millennium Development Goals” (CMDGs), the “National Poverty Reduction Strategy” (NPRS) and the “Governance Action Plan” (GAP) that includes the administrative reform at the national level. Furthermore, there exist policy and plans at ministries/institutions which respond well to the needs of women at all levels.
Through the above strategy, the RG has focused on establishing “Gender Equality” in the socio-economic development process through improving women’s capacity, changing behaviors and mentalities in the society concerning women’s discrimination, to ensure the rights and opportunities for health care, education, vocational training, benefit from economic resources and opportunity in equal participation in socio-economic development as well as receiving equal legal protection in order for women to prevent violence, trafficking and other hostilities. Another important part of this work is to maximize the proportion of women’s working places at all level of government institutions from central to local.
Within this framework, Ministry of Women Affairs which is a government agency responsible for improving women status implements the First and Second “Neary Ratanak” Strategic Plan to address challenging issues faced by Cambodian women to eradicate all forms of discrimination against women, in particular trafficking, domestic violence and sexual harassment. In order to assist the government in providing recommendations and to observe the implementation of national laws and international conventions, the Cambodia National Council for Women (CNCW) was established in 2001, honorary chaired by Queen Mother Norodom Monineat Sihanouk to support and promote status and welfare of Cambodian women in the society aiming at reducing and eliminating all form of discriminations and violence against women.
At the same time, the Royal Government of Cambodia has formed a “Gender Technical Working Group” among the eighteen technical working groups, the group plays a facilitating and advocacy roles on preparation and implementation of mechanisms and strategies to mainstream gender into national policies and programs as well as into other concerned sectors. In addition, the Royal Government is in a process of promoting reforms under good governance principal and give a priority focus on public administration, combating corruption, military reforms (including demobilization), public financial management reforms, land and natural resource management to reserve national budget for social spending and poverty reduction of our population especially among women.
I have carefully listened to the report of CNCW on stock-taking of 2005 performance and setting direction for 2006. In general, I highly appreciate the outcomes achieved by CNCW in 2005 and I support the missions and directions for 2006 that brought up the meeting. Meanwhile, I would like to highlight some important works of CNCW in 2005 that are interesting and worthwhile to note:
1. Since women affair is a cross-cutting issue involving many ministries/institutions, I decided to enlarge the membership of CNCW from 16 to 23 ministries/institutions. Moreover, because the gender mainstreaming into national policies and development programs is a political agenda of the Royal Government, thus it is necessary to have a national institution such as CNCW to promote further improvements.
2. Successfully defending the national report on the implementation of “Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)”. The report was defended in New York on January 2006 and the inter-ministerial delegations led by Her Excellency Chairwomen of CNCW accompanied and assisted by permanent secretariat.
3. Monitor the enforcement of Law on Human Trafficking; I have agreed with the 6 recommendations raise up by CNCW and to promote awareness of CEDAW in provinces and municipals.
Regarding the CNCW’s direction of activities for 2006, in principle, I support and encourage to put it into an action without delay. In addition, I would like to suggest some recommendations and additional ideas that I think CNCW should focus to address “Gender Disparity” issue.
First – CNCW must continue implement recommendations from Her Majesty Queen Mother to widely promote the CEDAW and in particular to monitor the enforcement of law concerning the protection of women rights to make recommendations to the Royal of Government.
Second – As I already noted in the gathering to celebrate the international women day on 8th March, I would like all relevant ministries to mainstream gender into their action plan across all sectors and levels.
Third – To promote an effective enforcement of Human Trafficking Law. As I have highlighted, the Chhay Hour 2 case is just a beginning of this process.
Fourth – To effectively promote the enforcement of Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence and Victim Protection through awareness campaign, law enforcement training and service provision to the victims.
Fifth – Ministry of Justice must make their utmost efforts to adopt draft law on eradicating human trafficking and sexual exploitation and to approve it in 2006.
Sixth – Ministry of Women Affairs needs to cooperate with the Ministry of Health to provide training to women in order to have more midwife in rural area.
Seventh – Ministry of Women Affairs needs to cooperate with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to build more dormitories in order to promote female education at secondary and higher level.
Eight – All relevant ministries/institutions of the Royal Government must pay attention to the recommendations of the CEDAW committee by implementing measures to gradually narrow the gender disparity across sectors; the progress on this will be reported by Cambodia to the United Nations in its next national report.
I would like to thank the relevant ministries/institutions of the Royal Government, development partners, national and international NGOs that have provided support and closely cooperated with the Ministry of Women Affairs and social works related ministries/institutions in their efforts in promoting status of Cambodian women.
In this auspicious occasion, I again would like to appeal to all Cambodian people to constantly and “jointly promote women status and family welfare” by adopting slogan “A society for All, A society without obstacles, A society that respects basic human rights of all.”
Finally and for the forthcoming Khmer New Year, the year of dog in 2550 of Buddhist calendar, I have a pleasure to wish you all particularly to women a good health, success and five gems of Buddhist blessing.