Queen Norodom Monineath Sihanouk Tuesday highlighted the significance of women in Cambodia and demanded the status of women in economic, social and political circles be improved.
The queen made her comments during opening ceremonies of a three-day women’s affairs conference at Hotel Le Royal. The conference, “Looking Back, Moving Forward,” is meant to allow women leaders to exchange ideas and make recommendations to the government.
“Women are a very important driving force” who help contribute to the development of the nation in all areas, Queen Monineath told more than 200 women leaders, government officials and diplomats. National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh also was present.
Mu Sochua, Minister of Women’s and Veterans’ Affairs, said although equality for women has improved, there are few women in decision-making roles. There is one female minister in the government, eight female senators and 12 female members of parliament, according to Oung Chanthol, director of the Cambodia Women’s Crisis Center.
To improve the status of women in society, she said, “We have to have a serious political will and sustain it forever, so we could solve the problems.”
Other concerns include violence against women, sex trafficking and poverty, she said.
More than 50 percent of the estimated 10 million Cambodians are women. About 30 percent of Cambodian women are widows, thus the main breadwinner in the family, Mu Sochua said. Mu Sochua complained that her ministry has a small budget, but she hopes more funds will be allocated. She estimated the five-year plan would cost more than $10 million.