Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, on behalf of my wife and my own behalf, I would like to express my great pleasure to join you all to celebrate the 93rd International Women Anniversary. May I take this opportunity to extend my sincere appreciation to her excellencies Minister, Secretary of State, His Excellency Under Secretary of State, ladies and gentlemen, officials at all levels of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Veteran, who have made their utmost efforts for the cause of enhancing the role and status of women and veteran in Cambodia, especially of the capacity building of women as well as attitude change and of gender biased views in the society. These efforts are the important key for social-economic development and poverty reduction and increased living standard of people, which are the priority goal of the Royal Government.
On the international women day of 8 March, the topic on jointly build a society without violence on women and children remains the most important topic, which we must continue to support and jointly resolve with urgency. This topic also has a potential to contribute to the acceleration of the implementation of the second five year social and economic development plan (2001-2005), because all of us recognizes that one nation can develop fast unless there is collaboration from citizens of both sex. This is the most important resource of the nation. It can be labor forces as well as intellectual resource, which sociologists or economists prefer to call human resource.
As you may already know, war and internal conflict for many decades have brought about many obstacles related to discrimination on the role and status of women in the Cambodian society, whereby it originally used to be a society of motherhood in many fields of daily life. At present, the differences between male and female has been clearly shown, according to literacy rate of adulthood, that there are 61 percent female and 82 percent male. Such situation comes from the fact that young females go to school at the lowest rate. Moreover, violence, exploitation, trafficking in women and children and all types of rapes on women has become a major concern for the government. With regard to the family violence, in the past as well as at present, the majority of our citizens consider it as internal or private problem of the family only. However, the family violence is not just a private problem for two or three people. Indeed, it has a strong affect on the whole Khmer society, because this violence, especially violence on women and children, is the most important reason which makes us lose happiness, dignity, mutual respect and create inequality in family as well as in community and society. Eventually, this factor has become a big obstacle preventing the participation of women in socio-economic development and abusing the rights and dignity of people, which is totally contrary to the spirit of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Certainly, the Royal Government recognizes the issue of gap between male and female as well as challenges related the enhancement of the situation, role and status of women in the Cambodian society. Therefore, the Royal Government has paid attention especially on women capacity building and the change of social attitude which tend to discriminate women. We established a ministry responsible specifically for women affairs. We have set out and made our efforts to implement policies and measures, aimed at eliminating family violence and fighting against human trafficking including the effort to promote the protection of women in the legal field and the inclusion of regulations on women protection in the state laws and the implementation of various program which provide opportunity for women to equally participate in the process of national reconstruction and development.
In this spirit, we have created the Cambodian National Council for Women, in which Samdech Preah Reach Akkemohesey Monyneath is the honorable chairwoman. Moreover, the Royal Government has launched a women plan (Neary Ratanak Plan) and a program focusing on six priority areas:
First, the inclusion of gender aspect into the poverty reduction strategy and governance program to increase the braveness and promote equitable and equal participation of women in all levels of development.
Second, health which focuses mainly on ensuring rights and power of men and women to be able to access primary health care, especially reproduction health, aimed at improving the situation and equal and equitable livelihood.
Third, education which focus on ensuring that women and children can get full rights in education and skill training at all education levels, so that they will become active resource to promote equality and equity in the society.
Fourth, women protection before the law, which focus on ensuring that women and children get an equitable and equal protection including the guarantee of women’s rights in formulating and reinforcing law and in education.
Fifth, encouraging braveness in economics and entrepreneurship training among women, aimed at guaranteeing equal rights of women in economic activities and providing opportunity to have equitable participation in economic development and contribution to poverty reduction.
Sixth, institutional capacity building and management strategy, which focus on ensuring the sustainability, transparency, effectiveness and capacity in institutional management, monitoring and evaluating project implementation, human resources management and finance, etc.
To attain this strategic plan, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Veteran, which is the national mechanism responsible for direct implementation of the policy of the Royal Government, has made its best efforts to promote some important programs including the inclusion of gender issue into the work of the ministries and institutions concerned through training of the trainers. This training has been organized for important officials in each ministry/institution. In the provinces which have Seila program, members of development committee of province-city, district, sub-district and village have also included training program on gender, leadership and self-confidence for women. Furthermore, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Veteran established gender information center to collect and distribute data and information for analysis and formulate policy and working framework including other programs focusing on gender.
As a result, we had a great success in the commune council election as more than 900 women got positions in the commune council across the Kingdom of Cambodia. The presence of women in the commune council is a great contribution to violence reduction on women and children and enhancing the role of women in management and development of the country.
Nevertheless, to fully ensure the equality and equity of sex, we have to work even harder, in which we really need close cooperation from all stakeholders namely government ministries/institutions, donor community, civil society, non-government organization and individuals.
In this spirit, I would like to take opportunity of this 93rd International Women Anniversary of 8 March to appeal to all state institutions, donor community, private sector and all civil society organizations to continue to provide stronger support and cooperation to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Veteran to enhance the role and rights of women and to successfully eliminate all violence on women and children in the Cambodian families and society.
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to this 93rd Anniversary of International Women Day of 8th March and welcome all proposals made by the women delegation in the women’s day statement to be able to participate in building a society without violence on women and children. Finally, I wish you, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the five gems of Buddhist wishes.