The 2024 Women Run 10K, an event serving as a celebration of women's rights and female empowerment, is expected to field more than 2,500 runners of all ages and nationalities when held on March 8 – International Women's Day.

Organised by the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) in collaboration with Sovannaphum Life, the Women Run 10K – under the theme "Women of Victory" – will start in front of Wat Botumvatey at 5am.

Participants can run either a 10- or four-kilometre course, depending on their preference and ability, the NOCC said at a press conference on February 6.

“Every year, we organise the Women Run to promote women's presence in sports, with the NOCC adhering strongly to the principles of the International Olympic Committee in organising more and more sport days and women events.

“Women are encouraged to actively get involved in sports and leadership, with their participation aimed to increase from 20 to 40 percent by 2028," said secretary-general of the NOCC Vath Chamroeun at the press conference.

Some 2,400 people have so far registered for the run,with the organisers anticipating that number to reach 2,500 or more by event day.

Sovannaphum Life Assurance CEO Loke Kah Meng said the leading life insurance company is proud to again be working with the NOCC in organising the annual Women Run 10K.

"We strongly believe that this year there will again be a lot of people participating in the run and supporting gender equality and women’s empowerment in Cambodian society, whereby men and women can have equal opportunity to succeed in their careers and professions.

"Sovannaphum Life Assurance is a proud supporter of the Women Run 10K, while we also encourage people to enjoy the four-kilometre distance with family and friends.

“Sovannaphum Life Assurance will contribute 4,000 riel from every registration. The proceeds will be used to support our social work through the Cambodia Women Entrepreneurs Association," Loke Kah Meng said.

NOCC secretary-general Chamroeun added that Sovannaphum Life and NOCC have collaborated in organising the Women Run 10K three times previously as they work to increase women’s participation in sports. 

He also hailed the strong support received from Phnom Penh City Hall, with permission granted to use public spaces, and runners provided with safety, security and support.

"Having such a great partnerships has made this event very successful. Inprevious editions, we have seen between 1,000 to nearly 2,000 runners take part, inspiring us to continue working together for the better," Chamroeun said.

He also expressed delight at the Women Run 10K returning this year with more participants, suggesting Cambodians are gaining aneven greater understanding of the roles of health and wellbeing in contributing to a better quality of life.

"The NOCC and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports have been working hard to promote people's health and wellbeing through sporting activities.

“We hope this event will also raise a greater awareness and appreciation of women's rights and female empowerment in our society," Chamroeun said.

Sovannaphum Life Assurance CEO Loke Kah Meng noted that Sovannaphum Life will work with Cambodia Women Entrepreneurs Association on social sustainability in using the money raised from the Women Run 10K.

The majority of the funds will be donated to the association in support of its training programmes, such as courses on entrepreneurship, leadership, financial planning, financial management and social media marketing, and others aligned with its set goals.

In addition, Sovannaphum Life – a joint venture company between Canadia Investment Holding Plc, the holding company of Canadia Bank, with more than $8.8 billion of total assets and legacy since 1991 – also has special trainers to support finance-related training courses.

The aim of the campaign is to support young women entrepreneurs, enabling them to expand their small businesses and improve livelihoods in the community.

Sem Phalla, Chair of the International Half Marathon Organising Committee, said around 2,400 people had already registered for the 2024 Women Run 10K.

"This year, we are targeting 2,500 participants, and I believe we will achieve this number because we already have 100 runners reserved and ready. We have prepared 2,550 running shirts and medals.

"More women than men have registered as runners so far this year, with the number of women registering already remarkably higher than previous years.

“Among the participants, 200 are from different nationalities, mostly Chinese, American, French, Filipino and Thai. We welcome everyone who wants to join us in celebrating women's rights and female empowerment through running," said Phalla.

The Women Run 10K is not only a sporting event – it is also a social event bringing people together in support of a noble cause.

And the organisers hope the event will inspire more women to pursue their dreams and aspirations, and overcome the challenges and barriers they may face in their lives.

The event also aims to foster a culture of respect, solidarity and cooperation among people of different backgrounds and genders, and to promote healthy and active lifestyles for everyone.

The registration fee for the 2024 Women Run 10K – with the theme "Women of Victory" – is 20,000 riel (around $5) for the 10-kilometre run and 15,000 riel for the four kilometre course, with all participants receiving a running shirt and a medal.