Address at the 12-Year Stocktaking Extraordinary Conference of Cambodian Women Association for Peace and Development 1999 - 2011 and Direction Setting for 2011 - 2015
Phnom Penh, April 27, 2011
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen Distinguished National and International Guests,
Dear all Participants,
Today, it is my honor and pleasure to be here once again in the extraordinary conference of the Cambodian Women Association for Peace and Development. I am convinced that the conference is a great opportunity for all of us to review all achievements and challenges during the last 12 years and build on these to set future direction.
Taking this opportunity, I personally and on behalf of the Royal Government would like to praise H.E. Mrs. Men Sam On and all levels of officials of the association for the last ten years of hard work and continued progress with high responsibility. Along with this, I also note that the association has received all kinds of support from development partners and domestic and overseas donors. The support has allowed the association to take part effectively in all social, economic and humanitarian activities, which can be translated into a contribution to the Royal Government’s socio-economic development effort to bring about better living standard, social welfare and poverty reduction.
In particular, the report provided by the association indicates its determination, willingness, solidarity among members, unity and responsibility that will make the association a key player in various women movements and in promoting women’s value, gender equity and social development. The association was indeed born under the umbrella of the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation, and realized numerous achievements since then. Since its formation, a lot of our women have made both mental and physical sacrifices, even their lives, to rescue the country from the Pol Pot regime, which massacred millions of innocent people over its rule of 3 years 8 months and 20 days. I recall that even after the salvation, our women left their beloved husbands and children to join the army to protect the people. Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government and the people, I would like to pay tribute to the heroic bravery of our women who sacrificed their blood and flesh for the cause of national salvation and socio-economic development that results in what we witness today.
The past strategies of the association cannot be appropriate for all circumstances as we need flexibility to accommodate specific political, economic and social situations. However, the association still firmly maintains its basic vision and mission. It is essential that the association strengthens its partnership with men in all activities and under all circumstances to support the Royal Government’s effort in maintaining peace which is the prerequisite for all development fronts. Moreover, the association has gradually strengthened itself and expanded its role in human resource development, especially for women, to promote women’s role both in the society and international arena.
Along with this, I also note that the association has expanded its operation in the municipality and all the provinces. The sub-national levels of the association as well as its branches in government’s ministries - institutions have shown a concrete solidarity to take part in social and humanitarian activities by providing assistance to those affected by disasters, mobilizing resources to build physical infrastructures in health and education sectors, engaging in education, health, sanitation and disease prevention work, promoting social morality, the value of women and gender equity mainstreaming, disseminating various laws and government policies, addressing the needs of the poor especially women and children, visiting and supporting brave soldiers protecting our sovereignty and so forth.
The Royal Government always treats women as key actor and dynamic partner to the contribution of Cambodia’s socio-economic development. Within this, the Royal Government has paid particular attention and has provided highly valued women through the enhancement and encouragement of their livelihood, rights status and role in the society. It is clearly understood that the creation of favorable condition to enable women to move out of vulnerability toward happiness and good livelihood help them to achieve social harmony. We have also acknowledged that women’s hard-works have brought about the positive change in human behavior and given social benefits as a whole. This means that the concept of “women cannot move beyond her chore” becomes an obsolete view and is replaced by the recognition of women’s potential and egalitarian status in the society with the view that “women are the backbone of development” or “mother of the world and key partner of men” in the process of personal, family and social development. Therefore, women have been paid particular attention to with high value and respect in the modern Cambodia. Along with this, we all acknowledge that Khmer women are dignified and gentle, being good wives, mothers and good elder sisters. They can play good leadership role in family, community and society through their practical role in political and socio-economic development, as well as being able to work as employer in private sector and society in Cambodia.
Moreover, the Royal Government is determined at the utmost to continuously creating more favorable condition, especially for helpless women living in the rural area to enable them to create business, receive health care, send their children to schools and to have proper living condition and fair legal protection for women, and avoid from violence, trafficking, rape and all other forms of violence. Another important part is that the Royal Government always pays attention to increase women participation ratio, at the maximum level, in all levels of national organizations. Within these, Cambodia has made many achievements in enhancing valuation and role of women, prevention and elimination of discrimination and violence against women. However, more efforts remained to be done in order to continue improving and successfully and effectively solving the above said problems. I am of the view that we have to continue making relevant laws and regulations in order to develop policy and to promote law and regulation enforcements, aiming to help women serve themselves, families, and nation, which is necessary for all agencies, especially Cambodian Women Association for Peace and Development to continue cooperating with each other to effectively implement the policies and regulations.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to suggest the Cambodian Women Association for Peace and Development to put further efforts to work closely with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and relevant ministries/ institutions to implement its missions in order to enhance women’s value and role, prevent and eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against women. In this regard, the association has to continuously find a source of fund from development partners and other charity to support its activities in the enhancement of women’s welfare and the solution of women difficulties. At the same time, the association has to closely work with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and related ministries - institutions to promote education and disseminate information on the consequence of domestic violence and discrimination against women, especially street children, homeless men and gang ring, who always stir up fear and insecurity in the society. These negative social phenomena have to be continuously cracked down and simultaneously implemented to prevent them from seriously taking place; and the solution could be made later.
Since Cambodia had made remarkable achievements with high economic growth over the last decade and noticeable poverty reduction, its economy suffered the adverse effect from the global financial crisis and economic meltdown in late 2008, especially on physical economic sector while we have bravely fought back with the Thai invasion to protect our own territory and sovereignty.
However, Cambodia is now standing in equal face and rights with other countries in the region and the globe as a gloriously cultural nation and civilization in Southeast Asia. In addition, Cambodia experienced economic growth of more than 5% in 2010 after sharp drop due to financial and economic crisis in 2008-09 and is projected to grow more than 6% in 2011. Total paddy rice production increased to 7.9 million tons, with paddy rice surplus of 3.8 million tons or equivalent to 2.4 million tons of milled rice for export. Within this economic growth, we are able to reduce poverty from 35% in 2004 to 27.4% in 2009 and will further decline in 2011.
I realize that the missions and achievements we have accomplished are the contribution that cannot be separated from our women. In this connection, the solid solidarity of all women members in the Cambodian Women Association for Peace and Development from the national level to the sub-national level have formed the network of strong driving force, which is the effective supporting foundation to back up the implementation of missions, which is a national requirement. The significant role of women in all levels has formed as core forces of comprehensive people’s movement to promote and advocate the policy implementation and strategic plan of the Royal Government.
I strongly believe that our meeting today is to monitor, discuss, open dialogue more comprehensively in order to collect excellent comments to be used as inputs to prepare the strategic plan for implementation in 2011-2012. The direction setting of “building families and communities with true happiness” of the Cambodian Women Association for Peace and Development will truly contribute to achieving strategic policies of the Royal Government and bringing about harmony and happiness to our people. Taking this opportunity, I would like to join you all in setting out a number of recommendations in order to ensure the success of 2011-2012 direction setting as follows:
First: the Association of Cambodian Women has to further promote the dissemination of women and youth education to be more comprehensively educated, life skills and consideration in order to avoid vulnerabilities that may result from being cheated by the gangs and try to expand opportunity for small and medium enterprise, especially the skills in plantation, animal rearing, agricultural production and processing, handicraft in order to meet the domestic demand and export to the foreign countries.
Second: Cambodian Women Association has to continue strengthening and expanding its existing mechanism in order to ensure working efficiency and attract women’s participation from all corners. All levels of women members have to actively participate in promoting women’s value and social morality, reducing domestic violence, enhancing the health of mother and children, especially our people in the community.
Third: Cambodian Women Association has to be in cooperation with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and related ministries - institutions in order to promote the dissemination of policy on gender integration and the enhancement of women capacity to the women living in the localities to be prepared for effective leadership in the socio-economic activities.
Fourth: Since Cambodian Women Association for Peace and Development is the concentration center of women resources, full of mixed abilities, it has to put further efforts in strengthening the leadership capability, skills in various sectors of women to make them become valuable resources and partners who cannot be absent in our nation.
Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government, I would like to recommend all skilled authorities of the ministries-institutions either at the national or sub-national levels to further pay attention to providing public services to the people, especially poor women by providing them opportunities in building professional and vocational capacity as well as paving the way for them to set up more small and medium enterprises. At the same time, we have to further promote the health of mothers and children in order to reduce the mortality rate of mothers and children and spreading rates of other epidemics. We have to pay attention to the effective implementation of “Safe Village - Commune Policy” in order to ensure that the people, especially women and children are feeling warm. I would also like to appeal to Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen and all participants to participate more actively in all raised projects as well as sharing information, knowledge and experiences gained from this meeting for the improvement of implementation to achieve new achievements for the nation.
Finally, I would like to wish Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, and all distinguished participants the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.