'Equal Status Is Key'

A leading opposition figure calls for the defense of women's rights ahead of International Women's Day.
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Cambodian opposition political figures Mu Sochua (R) and Sam Rainsy (L) walk to court in Phnom Penh, July 24, 2009.
Cambodian opposition political figures Mu Sochua (R) and Sam Rainsy (L) walk to court in Phnom Penh, July 24, 2009.

Mu Sochua, president of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) Women's Wing, spent 18 years in exile from her homeland after she was forced to flee war and genocide during the Khmer Rouge era. After earning degrees in the United States, she returned to Cambodia in 1989 to work as an advocate for human rights. She won a seat to parliament in 1998 and soon afterward was asked to take over the Ministry of Women's and Veteran's Affairs. She stepped down from her cabinet post in 2004, citing corruption as a major obstacle to her work, but has continued to represent Cambodia's women as a member of parliament.

Founded in 1995, the Sam Rainsy Party Women's Wing works to mobilize women on issues that are crucial to women's lives, train and prepare SRP women leaders at all levels, and provide women candidates with winning positions on the SRP lists of candidates.

Ahead of International Women's Day, Sochua and her group underlined the need for reforms in various fields to better protect women in Cambodia.

"On March 8, 2011 the world celebrates the 100-year anniversary of International Women’s Day. Today we must honor the vital role that women play in the development of our country. It is a day for us to stand together, raise our voices and defend women’s human rights.

Women’s rights whether economic, social, cultural, civil or political—have equal status. The state is obligated to create and enforce adequate standards that recognize this equality. The SRP believes that existing national policies tied with community action and the protection and recognition of the most basic human rights should align to establish a foundation for the protection of women’s rights. Gender empowerment exists through strengthening and promoting increased political participation, equal access to economic opportunities, increased access to health care and stronger enforcement of policies on prevention of violence against women.

Cambodia must adopt economic policy tools that embrace promotion and realization of equitable access to land, employment and equal standards of living.

The SRP strives to establish a national action plan that would incorporate existing international laws and in-country policies to end violence against women. This would include new legal reforms, monitoring systems and improved access to information. It is not only the responsibility of the State, but of the whole community to ensure the protection of women against all forms of violence.

International Women’s Day is not only a day to reflect on the progress that has been made around the world, but to recognize all the work that remains. The SRP Women’s Wing believes that developing women’s leadership is essential in order to achieve its goal that all Cambodians have access to equal economic, political and human rights—including personal security, financial independence, health care, and education.

We must ensure that enough women have support in their own lives to turn the tides of unawareness and both empower women into positions of leadership to make change, and build grassroots support for protection of women’s human rights and dignity."





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