Your Royal Highness, Samdech, Excellencies, Lok Chumteav, Members of the Government
Excellency Ambassadors, Representatives of Institutions, Representatives of Donor Countries and Non-Governmental Organizations
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, I have great pleasure to be with you all as a participant to celebrate the 95th international Women Day, 8th March, for all women in the world. In this great event, we will officially launch a paper on “Equal Share for Women” which assesses the gender issues in Cambodia and summary paper for policy making. They are the basic reference for policy and strategy preparation to benefit women’s interests and Cambodian people throughout the country.
In this great event, on behalf of the Royal Government and my own self, I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Ministry of Women Affairs and ceremony organization commission that make this magnificent celebration possible and I would like to pay my tribute to Cambodian people who actively and honestly participate in such celebration. This is a proof of underlining the respect, love and high appreciation on women in Cambodia.
The topic of “Working Together to Build a Violence Free Cambodia”, which was raised this year, clearly stresses that the Royal Government has paid attention on reduction of domestic violence in order to improve living condition of Cambodian women who are the majority. Presently, domestic violence still exists in every country around the world due to a number of non-progressive factors, lack of law and bias judicial system, lack of education as well as limited state budget. Therefore, the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna, Austria, in 1993 put the issue of domestic violence against women as its primary agenda.
As we all might know, most of the victims of domestic violence are women and children. Thus, preservation of tradition, cultural heritage and civilisation in order to foster moral values and dignity of society and the conservation and development of culture characterized by nationalism, rationalism and modernization within the globalization course, are inter-correlated tasks aiming at suppression of violence in all images and building a stable and peaceful society. Those essential responsibilities require great roles of women because they are the world’s mothers.
In this spirit, the Royal Government has rigorously implemented several major agendas such as the establishment of strategic policy institution as well as a lot of other development programs to enhance living standard, condition, status and role of women in the society. On the other hand, today, we launch a valuable paper on “Equal Share for Women” which assesses the “Gender” issue in Cambodia as well as the summary paper for policy making which will contribute to development and poverty reduction of the Cambodian people. These papers are the real achievement from the good coordination between the Royal Government and five donor communities including to two United Nations programs: United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and DFID. The publication of the papers is in response to government’s need, in particular the Ministry of Women Affair as well as donors and NGOs; because the papers gather all data and information from all relevant ministries and institutions in order to assess the real condition of women in Cambodia. The papers also mention about the participation of women in wage and non-wage employment.
Indeed, we frequently mention about the role of women in non-wage employment such as home affairs and taking care of children and husband, but we overlooked their participation in economy in term wage employment. For example, women are more than men in term of number, thus women significantly contribute to household’s income and directly and indirectly generate economic activities. In this sense, “The Rectangular Strategy” of third term of government considers women as the backbone of economic and social development.
For the last two mandates of the Royal Government, Cambodia has overcome many challenges in its process of reconstruction and development of the nation after suspending for more than three decades due to war. This war almost completely destroyed all bases of social structure, culture, tradition and customs, and religious believes as well as human resources that are the great challenge in developing the nation.
Indeed, we take a step forward to overcome those challenges by implementing a number of activities for human resources development for women who are the valuable resources and equal partner to men in term of contributing to social and economic sector through programs and projects to strengthen women capacity in rural areas and civil servants in all related ministries and institutions. We have also responded to the need in law protection, health and education and focused on“Gender” concept in preparing national policy. These activities will contribute to the successful implementation of “The Rectangular Strategy” for growth, employment, equity and efficiency and we all recognize that “Women Are the Backbone of Economy and Society”. The Royal Government considers as a top priority in promoting roles and conditions of women focusing on the implementation of “Gender” strategy, women capacity building in all sectors, changing social attitude toward gender, and ensuring rights for equal and active participation of women in construction and development of the nation. Under such framework, I strongly believe that both civil society and national institutions have willingness to eliminate all types of violence against women especially transforming home into a great living place with full honour for women and environment of safety, prosperity and progress.
At the same time, I support the Ministry of Women Affairs in implementing the national program “Neary Ratanak II” which has been continued from the last mandate by focusing on economic sector, heath care, decision making and legal protection to provide opportunities to women to equally participate in all economic, social and family activities. I also note that the Ministry of Women Affairs is a mechanism for enhancing mainstreaming “Gender” into policy and national programs, taking tremendous efforts at both local and national levels. The Ministry has implemented many activities such as providing training to important officials from other line ministries, municipal, provincial, district, commune and village development committees on gender, leadership, self-confidence and collected information and data for analyzing and developing policy in response to gender at all levels.
In this sense, I highly appreciate the Ministry of Women Affairs, ministries/institutions, local and international NGOs for working together to foster rights and status of women toward progress and poverty reduction in our country. I would like to stress that eliminating domestic violence in families and society, fighting human trafficking, enhancing enrolment rate of young girls, elevating health of mother and infant are our obligation. Women problem is not only the burden of women or Ministry of Women Affairs, but it is responsibility of all organizations and institutions as well as every individual. As I often mentioned that “Helping Women Is to Help Yourself” because women who are our grandmothers, mothers, and wives are the first teacher for providing education and taking care of our children to be person who has kindness, morality and knowledge and provide benefits to society.
I call for all ministries and relevant agencies to closely cooperate with the Ministry of Women Affairs to make the society change toward equity and equality that provide opportunities, rights and equal advantages for women. Government is well aware that there are a lot of things remained to be done to reach the goal in response to gender equality in Cambodia as stipulated in 2003 Cambodia’s Millennium Development Goal.
I would like to take this opportunity to confirm that the Royal Government of Cambodia has incorporated “Gender”mainstreaming into National Plan for Strategic Development which is prepared this year and submitted to Council of Ministers in September 2005. This means that all ministries have to develop their plans for the next five years and look at activities, goals and indicators in order to respond to “Gender” issue in their responsible sector. We have to remember that preparing action plan only on paper is not enough yet; there must be enough resources to support the implementation of those action plans. Therefore, Ministry of Women Affairs has to be ready to search for technical and financial assistance to ensure successful implementation of those action plans.
In this regard, to encourage and to increase the value of women in economic and social affairs, Royal Government of Cambodia recognizes that it is necessary to increase female civil servants. As I mentioned in Consultative Group meeting between government and international donors on December 6th, 2004 that we have to strengthen our officials based on job performance. Many female officials who have good performance should be promoted. There are many qualified female and male students to be recruited to work for the nation. In the 2003 general election, 12 percent of female candidates were elected to the parliament, which increased by 17.80 percent compared with the 2nd term of the National Assembly. We also have 13 percent of women as senators, which increase to 18 percent compared with the last term. This result indicates that women have significantly participated in policy making position at both local and national levels. However, we recognize that there much remain to be done for the Royal Government to improve status and welfare of women in our society.
To have the effective response to those issues, I would like to provide some recommendations, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, aiming at emphasizing the attention of the Ministry of Women Affairs and relevant ministries and institutions to implement the Royal Government’s priority programs as follows:
First: to prepare sufficient legal framework to protect women and children particularly law on women and children trafficking and the adoption of law on domestic violence. The two laws require having preventive planning such as law dissemination campaign, training for judge and justice police, consultants and trainers who show ways to help victims.
Second: to promote women’s participation in economic activities by focusing on upgrading and expanding Women Development Center into Women Enterprise Center, converting the credit projects to small micro enterprises that can be achieved through promoting and expanding small scale credit project to small scale financial institution in order to provide financing to any projects related to women especially women in rural areas.
Third: to promote family and women well-being by mainly focusing on the broadcasting of information related to health and reproduction and continuing to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and promoting nutrition by focusing on two main priorities, the food status of children and mother. This context is very important in promoting the awareness of breast feeding and food supplement condition of mother and children as well as changing the people’s attitude in using simple and nutritious food for children growth, who will become successor to take care, to defense and to develop the country in the future.
Fourth: to promote the enrolment of girls at the secondary and tertiary levels and to solve the illiteracy by providing dormitory to female students and to promote the illiteracy programs for women. Higher education for women will contribute to promote the value of women in the society and to provide opportunity to women in the participation of poverty reduction of Cambodian people.
Once again, I would like to express deep appreciation to the leaders and officials at all levels in the Ministry of Women Affairs, related ministries/institutions, donor community as well as civil society that have worked hard to prepare the paper“Equal Share for Women” and summary paper for the policy making. I strongly believe that this paper is an important database for related ministries/institutions to use in their policies and to transform recommendations in this paper to real implementation for the prosperity and progress with equity and continuity in Cambodia.
I also would like to express profound thank to all Non-Government Organizations that have worked to promote status of women in economy, education, health, to protect victims from domestic violence and human trafficking or other sectors related to social and cultural development in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
At the end, I wish Your Royal Highness, Samdech, Excellencies, Ladies, national and international guests, especially Khmer female officials that have participated in this ceremony and all compatriots with Five Blessing Buddhist Gems. To celebrate Women International Day, I officially launch this paper “Equal Share for Women” and summary paper for policy from now on.