Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday called on political parties to prioritize female lawmaker candidates for the top positions during future elections and demanded that women comprise at least 20 percent of future civil servant hires.
Speaking to about 750 female government workers during the annual National Forum on Women’s Leadership in the Public Sector and Politics, Mr. Hun Sen advised women not to rest on their laurels once they get a job.
“Women themselves, after being appointed, should understand that they need to have the capacity to lead and make decisions, so that they will then be accepted,” Mr. Hun Sen told the audience at his office building in Phnom Penh.
“If being appointed is just to get the position or rank, that’s not enough,” he said. “It will make the number of women participating decline at the decision-making level in the political sector, as well as in decision-making in the public sector.”
The prime minister called on officials to follow the government’s policy of replacing between 20 and 50 percent of retiring civil servants with women. He then called on parties to include more women in the top slots on their lists during elections.
“The parties should think about increasing the number of women participating in the political sector by giving priority to women candidates at the top numerical position on their lists,” he said.
Eighteen female lawmakers were elected from the ruling CPP’s list during the 2013 national election among 68 winning candidates (a 26.5 percent share), compared to seven elected by the opposition CNRP among its 55 winning lawmakers (a 12.7 percent share).
Thida Khus, head of the Committee to Promote Women in Politics, applauded the prime minister’s appeal but said it would change little if not backed up by laws.
“What we want is for the government to have clear measures to instruct parties to have 20 percent or 30 percent female candidates,” she said. “In particular, there should be a directive on making election lists in which women are listed in [positions] 1, 2, or 3.”