$1M for women in politics project

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The CASWR initiative is a 32-month project designed to advance meaningful representation of women and youth in political decision making processes in Cambodia. Heng Chivoan

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided more than $1 million to a Collective Action to Support Women’s Rights (CASWR) project to promote the leadership and engagement of women in politics.

The CASWR initiative is a 32-month project designed to advance meaningful representation of women and youth in political decision making processes in Cambodia.

The project was officially launched on Tuesday by Gender and Development in Cambodia (GADC) in partnership with the Amara Cambodian Women’s Network for Development (Amara), the Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT) and Women Peace Makers.

USAID representative Bruce Kay said at its official launch that the scheme aims to link communities and civil society to the government by increasing the participation of women and youth.

Expecting some 200,000 women to benefit from the project, Kay said taking women’s concerns on board and making them part of public policy is vital to allow women to play a key role in the Kingdom’s development.

“By investing to increase women’s participation, it will aid long-term development. The representation of women in the public sector is highly important."

“I want to promote women who dare to participate and dare to achieve what they want, because in the past women’s concerns were not included in [government] policy.”

The $1.072 million CASWR project started in November last year and will be completed in July 2021. It will be undertaken in six provinces – Battambang, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, Kampot, Mondulkiri and Pursat – USAID said.

GADC executive director Ros Sopheap said that although there is now better recognition and awareness of women’s rights, most issues remain a concern, including discrimination and abuse.

“Sometimes the authorities work on their plans but fail to provide an opportunity to listen to what citizens actually need, especially women. So through this programme, we aim to increase awareness of women to make [the government] understand and work with them,” she said.

Sopheap said the promotion of women’s rights at the grassroots level of government still seemed limited, and it required more attention to tackle the challenges of societal norms and entrenched attitudes and behaviour towards women.

Khoul Yuthly, the deputy director of the Department of Policy Analysis and Development at the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development, said the government has done a great deal to promote women’s rights and recognise the bravery of women in many fields.

“The government’s policy in promoting women’s rights has been ongoing for 10 years. It has been carried out in steps and aims to promote mainstream awareness of women. It has achieved positive results,” Yuthly said.

Cheng Chinneth, the director of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs’ Gender Equality Department, said the government has actively participated in promoting and encouraging women in grassroots areas, which is necessary work that needs participation from relevant parties.

“The participation of civil society is indispensible, as are the expected results of the Collective Action to Support Women’s Rights project. It is very important to promote the leadership of women as it contributes to the promotion of gender equality,” Chinneth said.