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Minister pushes for more women in top civil positions

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
Mr Kheng with Ms Kantha Phavi at the Women’s Day event. MOI

Interior Minister Sar Kheng has urged his subordinates to continue increasing gender equality and advancing women’s political participation.

Speaking during a celebration of International Women’s Day at the ministry yesterday, Mr Kheng said government officials at all levels must continue taking concrete steps to increase the proportion of women in decision-making positions, including formulating policies, laws and programmes.

“I would like to remind all public institutions and departments both at the national and sub-national levels to pay attention and help promote gender equality by allocating the role, task, accountability, power, opportunity and resources equally between men and women,” he said.

Mr Kheng noted the number of women in the police force, civil service and prison departments, which come under the ministry, has gradually increased and many have reached leadership positions.

“Although the ministry has not yet made a significant proportionate increase in the number of women officials, it has been developing strategies from year to year to raise their numbers,” he said.

Mr Kheng asked his officials to take firm action in eliminating gender discrimination within the ministry and look into the possibilities of recruiting and appointing women to leadership roles.

“I would like to call on both male and female officials to work together and learn from each other in order to serve the people. We must also not leave any citizen behind,” he said.

Women’s Affairs Minister Ing Kantha Phavi said at the event, women officials account for 25 percent of the government’s workforce at the sub-national and national levels.

There is currently one female provincial governor, 26 deputy provincial governors, six district governors and 194 deputy district governors.

“The strategies to increase the number of women in high positions at the sub-national level and the policies of ensuring gender equality have positive responses,” she said.

According to a World Economic Forum report, Cambodia has improved its status in the field of gender equality, ranking 89 among 153 countries in 2020, compared to 2016’s 112.

Ms Kantha Phavi said yesterday the report cited the participation of women in the economic sector and the promotion of health for women and girls as the main reasons gender quality in the country has improved.

“Meanwhile, there are problems remaining and new challenges arising, including violence and discrimination against women and girls, social and family prejudices over gender division at work and social interaction,” she said.

Bon Rachna, director of women rights group Klahan, said yesterday she supports the idea of having women in decision-making levels but noted there are very few women involved in legislation and judicial processes.

“Over the past 10 years, there has not been much change. Only a few women serve as lawmakers and work in justice system,” she said. “I am unsure about what level of decision making in the government is done by women.”

Last November, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women issued a report, highlighting its concern that there are no provisions in the Kingdom’s Constitution which define direct or indirect discrimination against women.

The report said the Penal Code only prohibits certain forms of direct discrimination, such as denial of access to goods, services or employment.

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