Employers must allow all Muslim women to wear headscarves and traditional clothing to work, Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday.
Addressing workers in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, Mr Hun Sen said he met Muslim women on a recent visit to Kampong Cham, who told him they faced discrimination from employers and were asked to wear uniforms that went against their faith.
He urged all private sector employers to allow women to cover their hair and dress in a culturally appropriate manner, saying the public sector and schools already permit the wearing of headscarves and conservative clothing.
Muslim women are also allowed to wear headscarves in photos for their passports and identity cards, he added.
“In their tradition they cannot show their neck or ears, or wear short clothes,” he said. “I would like all companies to allow Muslim women to dress how they want.”
Her Azimah, 26, said she and many other Muslim women struggle to find jobs where they don’t have to wear inappropriate attire.
“It is very difficult to find companies that allow us to wear headscarves and our usual clothes,” she said. “We have the ability to work but lose out because of our culture.”
Some women refuse to compromise their dress code for work, but others agree not to wear headscarves because they need to make a living, she added.
Los Rozak, deputy secretary of the Cambodia Muslim Youth Alliance, backed the government’s suggestion.
He said the banking sector, for example, often expects female employees to wear uniforms that include short skirts.
“We hope the government’s suggestion will lead to more jobs for Muslim women,” he said.
Labour Minister Ith Samheng yesterday published a notification to employers across the country, urging them to carry out the Prime Minister’s wishes and relax uniform requirements for women of Muslim faith.