Cambodia: Beyond ‘Inspiring Change,’ the theme for 2014 International Women’s Day

Inspiring change is the theme for this year women rights day celebration held annually on 8 March. Inspiring change has been taken place and will continue to take place only when we all look beyond the theme itself, namely action in real life.

While there are increasing role of women globally, Cambodian women has been on rise to play key roles in social and political life. We are not only witnessing women who are sitting in national assembly or commune council level, but you could also see the female activists who are at frontline to advocate for her and community’s rights to land or natural resource. More and more young women could also be found in various sectors such as social media as a blogher (in Cambodian context, I would name them clogher), journalists, and enterprenuer to name a few. I could proudly say that there are more and more inspiring ladies working in the organization (the Cambodian Center for Human Rights) I am working with and indeed they are the agent of change along with other male colleagues that make CCHR one of promient human rights organization.

This change taken place possible is credited to Cambodian government who has been supportive to women empowerment together with various civil society organization and public especially men who recognize and support the value and role of women could play in this society to work together to make a better change. However, more effort need to be done to ensure the committement and achievement we have been witnessed today could be fully addresing to gender equality.

There are occasion where security force has used disapportionate force against protesters especially when they confronted with female activists. This practice must be stopped to ensure that we all could talk to each other peacefully and with due respect to women rights. There are cases where authority and politician acted and used discriminatory language against women. When it comes to exuse to remove women out of position due to her persistent to uphold her role to protect citizens, the question of her qualification was raised. Such discriminatory attitude shall not be tolerated. When it comes to domestic violence, it is very important that women who are claimed to be victims shall be protected especially from authorities. A case of a recently released on condition land activist Yorm Bopha for example where she calimed of vilotently attacked by her husband, insteading of receieving support from authority and certain media and public to investigate on her domestic violence case, she has been double victimized from the report saying that she had an affair so it was justified for her husband reaction. Another recalling rape case of a young disable girl who was instead receiving full support from authority but was blamed of being rapped as the district police chief commented that “it was already 9 p.m. when was raped. She shouldn’t have been out so late.”

These are few cases out of other reported and under reported cases of vioence and discrimation against women where I want to draw attention to all stakeholders that we need to do more amid our pride that we has been achieving in promoting women rights in this country. Only when women rights are properly respected in real practice, inspiring change could take place as women could join hand equally and proudly with men and other gender for our nation’s development. Also, it is also necessary that women need to catch up with the speed of change by equiping ourselve with knowledge and further capacity building so that we can advance ourselve to change within and for the society. Rights in human history are not granted but advocated.

Happy women rights day!

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