Excellencies, Ambassadors, and Representatives to Kingdom of Cambodia
Excellencies, Princes, Ladies, Gentlemen, and participants!
Today, it is my great honor and pleasure to attend with Excellencies and ladies from senate and national assembly, Royal Government of Cambodia, provincial councils, deputy provincial governors, chiefs of district, commune/sangkat chiefs, as well as directors of provincial women’s affairs department and district bureau of women’s affairs, totally 750 participants all across the country, in this festive “Closing Ceremony of National Forum on Women in the Leadership Roles in Public Sector and Politics”.
In the name of government and myself, I would like to congratulate and support the preparation of this important national forum. This is the second forum, which is hosted every 5 years under “the topic on Women in Leadership Roles in Public Sector and Politics” in order to monitor the improvement and weakness in implementing the roles and efforts that are formulated from the strong willingness of women leaders. This forum also received a strong support from all institutes in public and political sectors, including private sectors, civil society organizations in national wide of Cambodia.
In this occasion, I would like to confirm all participants that, with the continuously active and proactive efforts, Cambodia has achieved many indicators of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in which was set 15 years ago and committed to move forward to implement Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for next 15 years in order to increase equity and the acknowledgement of equality between men and women in all aspects including political, economic and social sectors as well as equal rights to participation and undeniable partnership with men in developing a country.
In this regards, the government deeply understands that promoting understanding to women and women participation in all sectors, especially encouraging women in leadership roles in public sector and politics, elimination of violence, and prevention of sexual assault on women as well as increasing opportunities for women are so essential and critical in the purpose of sustainable socio-economic development.
Excellencies, Prince, Ladies, Gentlemen and All Participants
During the past two decades, Cambodia takes great pride for the achievements accomplished both in social and economic sectors within the context that Cambodia maintains full peace, strong political stability, better security, and public order. Particularly, Cambodia has achieved high annual economic growth of 7.7% on average and has significantly improved the people’s livelihood and welfare such that poverty rate has been decreased by 2% annually, enabling Cambodia to reach Millennium Development Goals on poverty eradication as well as other social sectors well before the 2015 deadline. Other remaining goals can all be achieved at the end of 2015 and the following years. At the same time, the RGC has also successfully implemented many other policies, strategies, programs and action plans in order to raise gender equality and women empowerment. As a result, the 2013 gender equality index shows that Cambodia ranked 136 among 183 countries in terms of reproductive health, education, decision-making and participation of women in labor market. This advancement toward improvement has progressively encouraged better women’s status, livelihood, position, and role in many important sectors.
However, despite Cambodia’s progress made in gender equality including women empowerment, we still face other challenges that need our attention such as: (1) women’s participation in public, political and economic sectors is limited; (2) gender inequality still persists in education sector, especially for upper secondary and higher education; (3) women’s health issues, nutrition, maternal mortality rate remains big challenges as compared to other countries in the region; (4) solutions to violence on women and girls through judicial and legal basis as well as provision of victims help service have not been made smoothly and on time.
Nevertheless, as mentioned above 2015 is the year that Cambodia and countries around the world commit to implement the remaining goals of MDGs by establishing Social Development Goals as new framework in which the additional 5th goal mentions about expediting the progress toward gender equality and women empowerment. Also, today’s National Forum on Women in Leadership Roles in Public Sector and Politics coincides with the time that we are coming together to find the challenges that hinder development of women in Khmer society towards gender equality by recognizing women as equal partners to men in national development.
To achieve gender equality and improve the proportion and capacity of women as leaders in all sectors, especially public sector and politics, we need to focus our priority on the following actual works:
First: Ensuring the protection of women rights and promoting fair contribution for women in every decision making level. To achieve this commitment, all ministries-institutions shall continue to provide opportunity and support for women to contribute and unleash their talent and capacity as well as contributing to problem solving of female government officials in each ministry and public institution. In this spirit, ministries-institutions shall organize training courses for strengthening women capacity, those who are responsible for decision making, public administration and management.
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Women’s Capacity Development
I wish to stress on this point for our meeting and other national and sub-national institutions to seek a solution to this problem. Improving capacity for women is important and it is a key in appointing them to positions. We cannot afford to fix a quota for women but neglect their capacity development. The point here is not about fixing a percentage quota (for women) but it should be about women capacity development and building. At this point I suggest that we are working one two directions – one of them is for various institutions to offer decision making related training for women in public sector. The Royal School of Administration also offers special training course for women in public function sector. I wish to recall about portfolio determined for women by Municipality, province, district to have at least one deputy. However, they may have more than one, if they could.
I must have your attention that we cannot just have women in functional position for display. They have to have task and responsibility. We should not have women displayed in those positions. While appointed, women also have to be aware that in order to take up appointments, they have to have leadership skills. Should we appoint women just for ranks, women’s participation in decision making in political sector as well as decisions on other public issues would weaken. I am calling for both institutions and women themselves to work out this requirement or no matter how many appointments we make, there will be unproductive performance of women in public sector.
We now also have female ambassadors and diplomats, whose skills and expertise are no less than those of men. We also have women in troops stationed under the UN peace keeping mission banner in Sudan, Mali, Central African Republic, and Lebanon, where we run hospitals. I could not recall if we also have them in Cyprus – between Greece and Turkey. Meeting HE Ban Ki-moon in 2013 in Brunei, he requested more female military police officers for demand abroad. For example, there is also need for female officers to conduct security body check for women as well.
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Second: Increasing the investment on gender equality, especially by reviewing fiscal public policy forestablishing and increasing public expenditure on gender equality as well as reviewingand analyzing the impact of public expenditure on gender inequality through organizing budget program that responds to all gender issues. At the same time, we shall implement gender mainstreaming strategy of all ministries- institutions through organizing budget plan and include in budget program of all ministries-institutions in order to access the national and development partners’ budget for implementing their own duty.
Third: Strengthening accountability mechanism for gender equality is the key task for measuring the effectiveness of policy and measures implementation of ministries-institutions and ensuring the adequate provision of resources for gender affair. Therefore, each ministry must strengthen their scheme of tracking, controlling, and assessing the resource allocation and budget distribution for gender affairs.
Fourth: Promoting participation of women in the economy is prioritized to enhance enough power of economy for women and their family and enable them to take part in public affair and politics. In this context, line ministries-institutions must continue to prioritize women participation in the economy by raising their awareness among women about related service access in order to develop business for small and medium enterprises. In the meantime, we must establish other programs which help providing women the technical skills, entrepreneurship and financial service to support women in diversifying and trading in agricultural sector. Also, all stakeholders in this labor market must closely collaborate to eliminate women discrimination in workplace, organizing labor force standard for women, providing social protection and assisting the dispute settlement, etc.
Fifth: Political Parties shall promote more engagement of women in politics through prioritizing women in the ranks that can be nominated. On the other hand, on public sector, ministries, institutions and sub-national administration shall implement the positive mechanisms that the Royal Government of Cambodia have put forward in increasing women engagement such as suspending years for women retiring, recruiting new female officials from 20% to 50% and replacing the retirees with female staffing with the capacity to fill in the position.
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Political Parties to Nominate Female Representatives
I am making appeal to every political party who will take part in the elections in Cambodia to nominate female candidates in all level elections – communal, provincial councils, municipality, districts, and khan. I suggest their nominations should be real at national level as well – National Assembly and the Senate. There was a time when a democratic organization (which I could not recall) organized a forum on women as candidates for members of the National Assembly. There was a political party, who was more active than others on women’s role, did not have female candidate for respective constituency. I am calling on every party to take real actions to place women in elections and each woman would have to have sufficient criteria. In proportional electoral system, they would bring others in the list down too if they are not elected. While every party pays attention to making women their representatives, every woman should make own efforts to be elected.
As far as election selection of women for public function is concerned, we have instructed, Minister of Public Function is also present, procedures for selection of new staff in relation to number of those retired. We are making efforts to guarantee that about 20% to 50% of those newly recruited will be female. We have for example 100 staff to go into retirement. We will only recruit 90 to replace them. Younger generation staffs have better education, thus improving work quality. Of the 90 staffs, for example, we could aim for between 20% and 50% women recruitment. There has been a quota for female functional appointment in the Ministry of Interior. Now I think every institution should increase more women in leadership positions.
We must pursue this aim from both ends – political party and institution as well as personal. We also have to take into account selection procedure, for instance recruitment exam for functional positions. If women fail to pass exam, we may have to think of other means to help them. However, more importantly, women must strengthen own capacity. To choose between 20% and 50% will be within reach because we have seen that there has been high percentage of female students who passed secondary school exam. I am sure they could take exam for functional positions. I am taking this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for letting a cripple man to serve in their staff roll. As the Ministry of Public Function involves in determining ranks for public servants, I stress that they should oversee procedure of recruitments making sure ministries proposing retired staff will not neglect women candidatures in their new recruitment or replacement.
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Before ending, I would like to express my sincere admiration once again to the management, officials, staffs of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs especially Her Excellency ING Kanthaphavi, Minister of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, who always pays great attention to promoting value and role of women in economic activities, politics, and society as well as fully supporting the endeavors to battle the discrimination and violence against women. At the same time, I would like to highly evaluate the Cambodian National Council for Women (CNCW), National Committee on Promoting Social Conduct Women’s Value and Khmer’s Family, Cambodian Red-Cross and relevant ministries-institutions, who always conscientiously focus on coping with the difficulties of women, and support the promotion of the condition, ranks, roles of women, and social well-being with the objective of national economic development. I also would like to express gratitude to the Development Partners, Civil Society, Private Sectors who always support materially, financially, and mentally to facilitate these activities.
Finally, together with the “Closing Ceremony of National Forum on Women in the Leadership Roles in Public Sector and Politics” I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen the Four Gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Healthiness, and Strength.