Women’s Groups Seek Council Representation

A group of women’s rights NGOs are recommending provisions to the draft organic law to ensure a large percentage of women in the proposed provincial, municipal and district councils. Over 40 representatives of 20 different NGOs agreed at a consultative meeting this week that the recommendations be submitted to the Interior Ministry.

The ministry is currently drafting the law, which will create elected re­pre­sentative councils at the pro­vincial, municipal and district levels.

According to the Committee to Promote Women in Politics, which organized the seminar, the proposed provisions would require that women be made high priority candidates in those elections.

“In previous elections, they put women candidates low on the list, and they failed to be elected,” CPWP Secretary-General Thida Khus said.

The 2007 commune elections figure of 15 percent women elected to council positions was unacceptably low considering the population of Cambodia is 52 percent women, Thida Khus said.

It is necessary to put forward clear recommendations for the new law to try to ensure that the situation for women in politics im­proves, she added.

Thida Khus also suggested that at least one woman should hold the position of deputy prime minister.

SRP lawmaker Tioulong Sau­mura said more female participants, particularly at local levels, will be crucial if decentralization reforms, such as the organic law, are to be successful.

Women’s Affairs Ministry Secre­tary of State You Ay said she was currently preparing recommendations to the government to recruit equal numbers of new male and female graduates for civil service positions, which she said would help improve wo­men’s political standing in the longer term.

Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kan­harith said the ruling parties were pushing to improve female participation in politics, claiming that the proportion of female CPP candidates who got elected was higher than that of most other parties.

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