Thursday, November 11, 2010

Keynote Address at the Closing Forum on “Uplifting Women’s Leadership Role at the Sub-national Level”

Phnom Penh, November 3rd, 2010

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen!

I am pleased and honored to be here in the closing forum on “Uplifting Women’s Leadership Role at the Sub-National Level” which has been held for the last two days. This forum, which is organized by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs with cooperation from the Ministry of Interior and financial support from development partners, aims at exploring new key options to continue building women’s capacity and determination, especially at sub-naitonal level. Along with this, i have noted that a large number of women from municipality, provinces, districts – khan across the country are joining the forum. This further reflects the Royal Government’s clear-cut political will and determination in uplifting women’s participation in the public sector and politics. In general, the Royal Government is well aware of this aspect and considers this task as a means for building the foundation of democracy and fast-tracking deconcentration and decentralization reform programs.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to praise the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and related ministries-institutions, NGOs, and related associations for the hard work and concerted effort in uplifting women’s role in socio-economic activities and eliminating discrimination and violence against women. Along with this, i would like to praise the the Cambodian National Council for Women for the effort in implementating gender equity policy which has been laid out recently. Also, I would like to thank development partners for the continued material and financial support aimed at promoting Cambodian women’s work and capacity. Taking this opporunity, I would like to welcome Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen distinguished national and international participants. I believe that the “Uplifting Women’s Leadership Role at Sub-National Level Forum” will further intensify focus on gender equity, eliminate violence against women, increase women’s ownership, promote social welfare and deepen partership and relationship with national and international institutions.

Cambodian history shows that women play an important role in all social, economic and political activities. Women are highly regarded by the society. In the middle of the 19th century, women started to participate in political and judicial sectors and became leaders in other sectors. Unfortunately, in late 19th century and early 21st century, women’s powerful role was disrupted by many factors such as the change in social behaviour which restricted women from gaining leadership position in the public and political sectors. Adding to this, barriers to education services made women return to their traditional role, this means that women have very little role and power. Moreover, family burden, lack of family and financial support and pessimism among women themselves restricted women from joining community work and public sector.

Presently, we do not only review the traditional role of women, but we must acknowledge the competency, knowledge, skill, competitive advantge and potential of women that can be used as a main inputs in socio-economic development.

Indeed, the declaration of various conventions and laws provide comprehensive mandate to ensure gender equity, women’s bravery and women’s rights that are key to proverty reduction, growth and democraty-based governance. To Cambodia, gender equity is clearly stipulated in the Constitution and various laws and now incorporated in the National Strategic Development Plan and other Royal Government’s programs. In particular, within the legal framework and policy that promote women’s political role, the Royal Government has fulfilled its obligation within international treaties, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), and the CMDGs all have indicators specifically designed to monitor women development.

Obviously, the “Rectangular Strategy” of the Royal Government has clearly mentioned that, “Women are the Backbone of Our Economy and Society”. This strategy focuses on the promotion of capacity building of women, changing social attitudes that are biased toward women, and ensuring that women have the rights and opportunity to get healthcare services, education, skill trainings, economic resources and opportunity to participate in the development of socio-economics with equity. Parallel to this, the Royal Government has also provided legal protections with justice for women in order to prevent them from violence, human trafficking, rapes, and other violent forms. Besides, the Royal Government has always focusing on increasing the proportion of women’s participation to the maximum in national institutions at all levels, from the middle level all the way to the local level.

Truly, with this objective, the Royal Government not only encourages women to work hard at all levels, but also provides training, capacity building, and skills to women so as to promote their decision makings as well. This aspect in part has greatly reduced poverty, increased the welfare of the people and the development of Cambodia’s socio-economics.

Obviously, the result during this past decade shows that participation of women in decision-making has markedly increased. For instance, the proportion of women elected to the National Assembly has steadily increased, from 5% in 1993 to 11% in 1998, to 19% in 2003, and to 22% in 2008. Furthermore, the proportion of women holding positions as secretary of state and undersecretary of state has also increased from 7% and 9.6% in 2003, to 7.7% and 14.6% in 2008 respectively. At present, 10.1% of municipal and provincial council members are women, and 12.6% of city, district and commune council members are women as well.

Parallel to this, the Royal Government has also continued the implementation of legal measures, and other policy measures under the decentralization process so as to promote the women’s involvement, and find solutions to women and children’s problems. These measure include regulatory on gender laws on administration governance of municipality, province, city, district and commune; and decrees and guidance for the women’s consultation committee and children at the sub-national level. The development of institutions under this decentralization process, women are also assigned to work in the structural administration at local level as well. For this, women are actively involved in developing plans for district development and domestic violence as well. From this active participation in political activities at the local level, now women who are members of commune councils has increased from 8.5% in 2002 to 14.6% in 2007, and now women working at the village management level is 30%.

Moreover, Ministry of Interior has also appointed women as deputy governors of municipalities, provinces, cities, districts and communes nationwide. Secretariat of Public Service has announced and disseminated instruction information on selecting government officials serving public institutions as women from 20% to 50%. Thus, the proportion of women government officials has increased from 32% in 2007 to 34% in 2007 in middle of 2009.

Though the result of this work has been progressing, we must continue strengthen other activities that increase more the women’s participation in other governance tasks, that are against social thinking about gender roles and supporting the women’s participation in public sector. Apart from this, the Royal Government of Cambodia will continue fulfilling the needs of women in all sectors, so as to achieve Cambodia’s Millennium Development Goals, national development strategy plan, policy and plan at each institution. Parallel to this, the Cambodian National Council for Women that is headed by our Majesty the King, Preahbat Samdech Preah Norodom Sihamoni as an honorary chairman, and me as an honorary vice chairman, and also National Committee for Social Moral, Women’s Values and Khmer Families Promotion that is headed by LukChomTeav Bun Rany, as honorary chairman will continue supporting and encouraging the promotion of status, title, and position of Cambodian women and social welfare in order to reduce and eradicate the biases and all forms of violence against women.

In general, we have to imagine extensively about women, providing them with opportunity and support in participating in public sector and political sector of women as well as recognizing women’s potential in political capacity and activity of Cambodian women.

It is true that everything mentioned above is to achieve the wish of the Royal Government, that want to see our society with peace, political stability, security and social order, sustainable development, moral, human rights, and human dignity. In short, the Royal Government wants to see people becoming highly educated, well- informed about cultures, having decent living and living in harmony in society as well in family.

In order to realize this vision, I believe that the provision of opportunity, support and cooperation to women in all sectors will truly provide value and socio-economic progress. In this regard, I would like to provide a number of recommendations as follows:

- First, the National Committee for Sub-national Democratic Development (NCDD), the Ministry of Interior, Council of Ministers, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Royal School of Administration must increase cooperation in capacity building to women who are leaders at the sub-national level, and the management, which includes gender integration.

- Second, the Management of the City, Province, and District/Khan must create favorable environment in order to enable to fulfill their tasks more actively with double efficiency.

- Third, the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Sub-national Authorities must promote the preparation and process of the Consultation Committee for Women and Children including the capacity building and provision of sufficient resources in fulfilling their work with the objective to ensure effectiveness and efficiency. At the same time, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs must strengthen the institutional and human resources development according to the objectives of decentralization and de-concentration by continuing to enhance the capacity, ownership, partnership and cooperation with related stakeholders in order to make sure that the National Council and related agencies for women become strong agencies with potentiality.

- Fourth, the Ministry of Information must cooperate with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and other relevant institutions as well as the National Committee for promotion of Social Morality, Women’s Value and Khmer Families in order to disseminate to the community to be aware and to support women’s participation in the development process, especially in the public and political sectors.

- Fifth, the Secretariat of the Public Function and the National Council for Administrative Reform must complement the shortage of the Government Officials of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in a number of districts that are in shortage for the sake of sustainable employment.

- Sixth, all institutions and related authorities must strengthen and enlarge working efficiency either in implementing the law or various legal documents related to the elimination of the acts of discrimination against women including domestic violence, trafficking and rapping...etc. In this connection, each institution and unit must continue promoting the institutional and human resources development in order to ensure the success and efficiency of the implementation of their activities.

These actions require the joint efforts to be made by the Royal Government, development partners, non-governmental organization and civil societies in order to ensure the support and promote the participation of those women in all levels. In this connection, I hope that Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen and all participants will continue to participate in actively implementing this plan as well as trying to share information, knowledge and experiences received from this forum, with officials and staffs, colleagues for the improvement of the implementation and obligations aiming to achieve new achievements conforming to our National Strategic Development Plan.

Before ending, I would like to, once again, thank for the presence of Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, who are participating in this forum and specially thank the Development Partners including the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Unite Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), Peace and Development Organization (PYD), EU SPACE, and the Committee to Promote Women in Politic (CPWP), who have supported the organization of this event. At the same time, I would like to highly value the management and all officials of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, who have tried their utmost with high responsibility to organize this smooth and fruitful event for Cambodian women.

At this end, together with the closure of the forum on “Uplifting Women’s Leadership Role at the Sub-national Leadership”, now I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen the four gems of Buddhist blessings: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.


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