France has pledged nearly $400,000 to set up maternal health and early childhood services, including child care centers, at a dozen garment factories across Cambodia, the French Embassy said on Wednesday.
The French Development Agency signed an agreement pledging about $380,000 to child welfare NGO Planete Enfants et Developpement to fund the pilot project, the embassy said in a statement.
The pilot will be implemented across 12 factories in Phnom Penh and Kompong Speu province, and will involve 1,200 workers and 140 children aged 3 and under, the statement added.
“Around 50 people will be trained in maternal health and day care services inside the pilot factories,” it said.
The agency’s country director, Philippe Steinmetz, said most of the country’s 605,000 garment workers were young women from rural areas who struggled to access maternal health services.
Research for the project “revealed difficulties for the female garment workers to access reproductive and maternal health services…and a very high level of home deliveries (compared to the rest of the population),” he said in an email.
Mr. Steinmetz said companies who employed 100 or more female employees were required by law to provide on-site child care facilities or cover the costs of external day care.
But in reality, “there are no standards and operational guidelines,” he said, adding that employers who wanted to set up day care facilities struggled to find qualified staff.
Consequently, “there is a very low implementation of services and very few operational day care centers in the factories,” he said.
The pilot will develop operational standards for day care facilities inside factories, he said.