It is a good thing that we are meeting in the Santepheap Building (of the Council of Ministers) to organize this anniversary of the March 8 International Women’s Day and we should make it a place for Cambodia to make decision about promoting women. I have a few points to talk in addition to the prepared text. First, on this special occasion, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, in the name of my wife and my own, I would like to send wives, sisters, nieces, aunts of husbands, brothers, nephews and uncles who are in the armed forces fulfilling defense duty at the border.
I know it is indeed a good time for family members to get together but because we have this threat of aggression (from outside) they cannot set aside their time to come share the joy with their families. I would like to send my respect to all heroic female members of their families who have dedicated their loved ones whether in the army, the military police, and the police forces for the cause of defending our territory.
As far as investment for women is concerned I would like to stress that helping women is indeed helping oneself. I have made some ten recommendations in the meeting of the Women’s National Council, also in the Samtepheap Building, and I pointed out that it would be foolish for anyone to think of leaving women, first of all in own family, in a state of incompetent. It is also similarly the case if leader of an institution would overlook the need for women’s capacity building. I may have your attention on this point if your own wife and daughter are not capable of doing their jobs, all difficulties will surely be falling on husband and father.
It has been outdated for some case where wife has to beg for money from husband for daily need. Of course we cannot interfere in family’s affairs but that is ridiculous. In fact one should strengthen everyone’s capacity and capability in the family, men and/or women. When they all are capable, you will find that you are relieved. In a TV show the other day an actor said ‘wife is a sort of bank that withdrawal of cash is difficult.’ I think that is a respectful thought and it should be because you men are not that good at keeping money.
Investment for women has in fact been made through various forms of action. However, we have yet to score a positive result as we desire. Investment has to start from bottom up as talking about strengthening women’s capacity, one has to agree to a point that they need to be sent to school in all levels. As I said on various occasions that we need to accommodate traditional parental prudence with the form of response we are providing. Look, it has been accustomed that daughters would not be allowed to go away or off the house in pursuit of studies or jobs. Efforts to build more schools at the local level have in fact improved female student’s chance and access for education.
However, it is a usual case that when the country is at war, women indeed are the ones to suffer the most. That is why I would suggest women share and maintain peace that we have achieved. Along with efforts that are mentioned above, it is still necessary to invest in preparing hostels for female students in provinces and cities. The idea here is to allow female students from poor families to get a chance to continue their studies.
In the last few years, we have built many good roads while consolidating an environment of peace. It should be noted that this has enabled more female students to get registered and more of them to go to secondary levels and to tertiary level of education too. Effort to resolve issue of war and make peace while improving infrastructures have now started to bear us fruits in other sectors. As of present women have enjoyed many chances they never had before.
I have seen in this pamphlet prepared by Chumteav Ung Kuntha Phavi, Minister for Women’s Affairs, with statistics that is quite orienting and useful. It has urged attention of all that we have to start from a statistics so that we can monitor women’s involvement, participation in leadership. The statistics has indeed provided a breakdown figure from 1998 through to 2008 women’s involvement and participation in politics and public functions.
As far as political function is concerned, women in this case have to go through elections and it is up to concerned political parties to develop their lists of candidates, in which number of women are nominated there. Take for instance, the number of women candidates that will run in the 2012 communal council elections, the 2012 senator elections, and the fifth legislative elections which will be taking place on July 28, 2013. Let’s follow through as to which party posts how many female candidates for these elections.
Aside from that, the Royal Government will have to screen female employees for various public functions. (The Cambodian People’s Party Secretary) HE Say Chhum and HE Sar Kheng (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Interior) reported to me the other day about percentage of female candidates in the party lists. I have recommended that no need to set a percentage but to have female candidates in the lists and let them stand at a rank that they would be easily elected rather than placing them at the bottom of the list that their chances for being elected is slim.
According to the statistics of state institutions of 2010, we have 34% of women as government employees. I am sure you all know the composition or share of women in your leadership positions already from General Director to Head of Offices in the Ministries, cities, districts, etc. Here in the statistics, women hold only 5% of ranks of Director General or Secretary General, 11% of Deputy Director/Secretary General positions, 0% of Inspector General, but 15% of Deputy Inspector General, 10% of Department Heads, and 5% only of Deputy Department Head.
I hope that after today’s recommendations, concerned institutions will see about preparing for women to be delegated into leadership positions. Actually this statistics I have mentioned has not included those positions that HE Chan Sarun, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, proposed to me yet. Ministers have rights to appoint Deputy Heads of Department and Office Head, but I have the duty to approve appointments of Head of Department and up. So it is totally up to you now to come up with a list of candidates, in which women are nominated, for my approval.
We now must see through that women are posted to leadership positions and the Ministry of Interior has in fact been making a huge progress of this matter. It should be noted that the Ministry of Interior has allocated at least one position for women in every department. Actions, therefore, need to be taken seriously and actually so as to achieve women promotion and to realize gender integration among us.
I would urge attention on another issue that I would term “do not be too sharp or too blunt” or in other words, in local dialects, “while it is husband who is a captain, wife and children are higher in ranks.” I have heard so much from various ministries that wives (of male ministers) are interfering in affairs of ministries. I urge that all ministers keep their spouses at home or there will be this situation of staff being unhappy with the ministers because of their spouses. This is what I say too sharp. I have no choice but strip so and so off his/her position if there are relentless complaints.
We are promoting women’s involvement and participation but we have to make sure their promotions will be in accordance with their skills and expertise. Interference as such mentioned above would not be constructive. I have the need to speak out frankly of what has happened. I have the duty, in my capacity as head of the executive power, to warn those under my command not to commit a mistake. As for me, it has been 32 years now that my wife never sees my working place. I am sure what I have just said would bother some people but at the same time many would be relieved too./.