Women on their growing roles in society

Sen David / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Colonel Yung Khemara, deputy chief of staff military brigade 70.

Today is the 107th anniversary of International Women’s Day and the government is continuing to promote women’s rights by giving them more opportunities to change the country through leadership roles. Sen David talks to some different women on how their roles have evolved within Cambodian society.

Colonel Yung Khemara, deputy chief of staff military brigade 70

“I think that women now have more rights and have been getting encouragement from the government to work in state institutions. We are proud to be women in our society nowadays. Women are being urged to be leaders. For female soldiers, I think that our numbers have continued to rise and we now represent a lot of the army if compared to many years ago.

“But besides the encouragement from the government, I think women themselves must push each other and dare to take up leadership roles. We have enough ability, and must continue studying hard and working hard to maintain our dignity. Women are clever, both at home for their families, and outside at their workplaces.”

Sem Pheak, a 37-year-old electronics vendor in Phnom Penh

“For me, I think that women are so strong and can now do anything that men can do. For example, every day I run this electronics shop by myself to sell my goods to support my family; I have four daughters. I do this because I want to see all my daughters go to school until university. I do not just stay at home and depend on my husband. I use my own time to help support the family.

“However, I still see from media reports that some women still suffer violence from men. Domestic violence in the family, like raping and killing, it is still happening and needs to be addressed. It is so bad and cruel. We really need the government to help protect us.”

Chan Pheakdy, a 17-year-old Sisowath High School student

“For me, I think that now there are more women going to school. They now have the chance to study and get an education like men. I want to have a good job in my future because I want to help my mother. She is getting old and needs my help to support the family. I must keep studying and complete university. I will not quit my studies because I want to be a leader and have a main role wherever I work.”

Ou Tepphallin, vice president of the Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation

“I think that even though the government has been encouraging women to gain higher educations and enter the workforce, we still face many challenges, especially for those who are garment workers. For example, it is very difficult for the thousands of female garment workers to band together and form unions at some of their factories. This is because since the government created the union law, it has made it harder to unionize. They demand many conditions to create unions.

“Also, pregnant women in the garment sector sometimes face job losses at the end of their short-term contracts. And women working in the entertainment industry, in bars, clubs or karaoke clubs face discrimination from employers who do not allow them to get pregnant. If they have a baby, they will lose their job; they do not get any protection. So women are being encouraged, but some are still not being protected.”

Kang Kallyan, a presenter with the Cambodia Broadcasting Service

“In my experience for working in media for more than 10 years, there is a small number of female journalists in the country, but the number has risen if we compare it to years before. Women in the media sector have a role to produce different news sometimes not covered by their male counterparts for our society. And now women can be leaders at some media organisations.

“They have more responsibility than some of the men. I think that the role of women in the media sector has improved and it is a good thing because women are fearless and can chase down any story.”

Chheang Lapy, an official with the Ministry of Commerce

“I think that women are being given more responsibility within state institutions nowadays, and they are also being prioritised to fill empty positions. For example, for the entrance exam for state institutions, women who have the ability to pass the exam are then prioritised to fill positions.

“They have the chance to get those positions and they are also being encouraged to further their studies, both within the country and abroad. Some women might be busy with families at home, but that does not mean they cannot also contribute to society like men.”

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