Elections Group Calls for Gender Quota System

Fearing a low number of women candidates standing for electoral posts during upcoming elections, the executive director of the Com­mittee for Free and Fair Elections on Wednesday called for a gender quota system to be established by each political party to encourage more women to run for office.

“We are preparing a draft for recommendation to the National As­sem­bly, political parties and the government to integrate our proposal to have 30 percent [female candidates] for each political party,” said Comfrel Director Koul Panha during a workshop that at­tracted university students and representatives of more than 100 NGOs.

He told the panel that Comfrel feared the number of women running for office would be low be­cause some officials have claim­ed that their parties have lost votes for posting women candidates.

He added that the recommendation is expected to be approved by the government and National As­sembly “very soon” in order to pres­­sure each political party to provide more chances for women candidates to be elected.

Tep Nitha, secretary-general of the National Election Committee, said the NEC “can only coordinate and suggest to a political party to provide chances for women candidates” and that the amendment can only be made by the government and the National Assembly.

Kek Galabru, founder of local rights group Licadho, said that wo­men candidates should be listed on the top lines of ballot papers to even out the odds against them.

“Women also have the capacity and ability to work as men so those women should be given more chance for being elected,” she said, adding that there were 105 countries that have successfully been using gender quota systems.

Khim Chamroeun, secretary of state at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, said that the tally of women in top political positions clearly shows there is a gender disparity.

She said that only 7 percent of ministers are women and 5 percent are secretaries of state.

Khim Chamroeun said 4 percent are in the positions of undersecretary of state and judges.

Only 8 percent of commune council officials are women, she added.



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