Tomorrow, the whole world will be celebrating International Women’s Day. For the past years, we’ve seen on television and in newspapers how women across continents have fought for their rights, equality, freedom and peace. We’ve seen women marching against violence, abuse and subservience. But, are Cambodian women doing and experiencing the same?
Youth Today asks: Are Cambodian women in this generation completely free to choose their own path in terms of education, love and career?
Personally speaking, despite the fact that education is widely open to girls and women nowadays, I still don’t think that they are ‘completely free’ to choose their own path. It is true that many girls are able to pursue higher education after graduating from high school, but they are still under the control of their families to choose the majors and universities they love as mostly our society still cling on to the idea that there are some majors that are suitable for girls while some are not.
Additionally, there are some cases that they are told by their families, friends and senior not to pursue the higher education such as PhD or something since those people believe that the higher education is a long process for girls as they have to get married as early as possible.
With the high level of education she has, there will be no man who’s willing to marry her. Moreover, such education sometimes means really little to her after she gets married because in the end, she has to be in charge of looking after the children and doing the household chores.
I think they are free, but not ‘completely free’. Even if more girls receive education, and ladies are allowed to choose their dream career and love, not every single woman receive complete freedom and independency. Some of them are still trapped within the ideological circles, which makes it hard for them to have enough bravery in making their own decisions and following their own path. I have seen a case like this happening mostly to young girls and ladies in provinces outside Phnom Penh.
I think there are some barriers which give women a hard to choose. Personally, it still hugely depends on one’s self since it is her choice. It is a matter of how dependent she is. Well! Let’s simply say independence to decide what they truly need or to protect herself. Women are not victims. Surely! Through education, she can empower herself and pursue what she wants or even persuade her surroundings. Education is free for everyone. Maybe, it is good to stop complaining on external barrier.
I think it is complicated due to some reasons that push girls to feel pressured in making decisions...how lucky am I! My parents allow me to decide.
To me, I think that even though we are trying to jump into a modern community, we still do not have enough freedom to do so. Society, family, and the public are the main factors behind it. To stay out of those, the only thing we can do is to believe in ourselves, encourage the society especially women to believe in their own power and strength.
Women today have more power to exercise their rights and roles in society. Yet, they not completely free due to the irrational belief in social norms that are ruled by people themselves. Some of them believe they couldn’t move, they’re not allowed. Yet, they stop themselves from reaching for their dreams. I recommend women to be emotionally stronger and believe that they have rights to exercise their freedom of speech, choices and decision-making. They can do whatever they want as long as those actions will not harm others or society. Men and women are totally equal.
[Fighting for the] rights of women is not only for a day. She should exercise her rights everyday. It is great that the world celebrates a day for women’s rights on 8th March. And when we talk about rights, yes, she can choose to do what she is interested to do. Same with career. She can choose whatever kind that fits her in her own timing. Social norms depend on our thoughts. It’s not really something that can hinder a woman if only she knows how to handle it.