A group of disabled women yesterday raised concerns over discrimination faced by girls in getting an education, despite progress being made in the Kingdom to improve their rights.
They raised their concerns during a forum jointly organised by Pact Cambodia, Agile, USAID and the government on challenges faced by women with disabilities which was held in the capital.
Chea Bopha complained that many parents do not send their disabled daughters to school because they believe that no one will give them jobs in the future.
“When parents have daughters who are disabled, they do not send them to school to get an education because they think that because of their disabilities they will not get a job in the future,” she said.
She encouraged parents to send their disabled daughters to school to get an education for a better future.
“For example, my parents discouraged me from attending school because I am disabled, but I persevered because I wanted an education,” Ms Bopha noted. “Now I have a job with Agile and am contributing to society.”
She added that other challenges that women like her lack of disabled-friendly equipment and facilities like restrooms.
Ngoun Chhay Cheng, another participant at the forum, urged those with disabilities to ignore discriminatory words.
She noted that while she was studying in school many people asked her why she was getting an education since she was wheelchair-bound.
“When I was in school people said that a disabled woman like me will not be able to get a job even if I get a higher education because I am wheelchair-bound,” Ms Chhay Cheng said. “I did not care and continued my education.
Nhem Morokat, an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Woman’s Affairs, said the forum was very important to receive feedback on the challenges disabled women face.
She noted that most women with disabilities are blind.
“Disabled people are still able to do things because they can see but blind people, especially women, are mostly discriminated against, ridiculed or exploited,” Ms Morokat said. “This forum is very important to allow disabled women to voice their concerns.”
She appealed all relevant ministries and institutions to jointly work towards finding ways to address problems disabled women face.
Sabin Joukes, country director of PACT Cambodia, urged participants at the forum to speak up and make their voices heard.
“I am grateful to representatives from the government for taking the time to listen to issues and promising to work towards finding solutions,” he said.
Last week, King Norodom Sihamoni issued a letter praising the government for its efforts to improve the lives of disabled people.
The King noted that the 2014-2018 National Strategic Plan on disability has enabled disabled people to access both quality and equitable health services and rehabilitation both physical and mental.
The government has said that this year 2,860 disabled people have been employed in 40 ministries and state institutions and 3,792 have found jobs in 102 private companies.
It noted that for the academic year 2018-2019, 60,284 children with disabilities are studying from kindergarten up to tertiary level.