Women Lawmakers Press for Gender Equality

Female government officials called for improved gender equality through administrative reform at an inter-ministerial workshop Monday in Phnom Penh.

Minister of Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua rallied more than 100 attendees of the Women in Decis­ion-Making Positions workshop to demand a change in the government’s administrative practices.

“Males and females need gender equality,” Mu Sochua said, adding that justice and poverty re­­duction will be realized only when women are treated the same as men.

To achieve this, Mu Sochua said, the government’s approach to gender issues must change.

“I want to know why there are such high figures of dead mothers, or why dead women are not as important as dead men,” she said, adding that 437 of every 100,000 pregnant women die of complications from childbirth.

She said many expectant mothers lack access to prenatal care because health centers are inaccessible and medical costs are high.

The workshop’s only male attendee, Ngor Hongly, chief of the Council of Ministers’ Admin­is­trative Reform Council, admitted that governmental re­forms are needed in several areas.

“We also need to know clearly the numbers of government officials and collect more details about their background [to identify them],” he said.

Ngor Hongly added that many civil servants contribute to corruption by holding office in several capacities.

Civil servants’ salaries should accurately reflect the duties and positions held, he said.

Government support of gender issues is making some progress, Mu Sochua said, noting that the 1992 enforcement of the Conven­tion on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women would be discussed soon by the Council of Minis­ters.

The convention, an international treaty recognized by the UN, was received by the council Mon­day and will be sent to New York for UN review once it passes, she said. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs plans to send its own delegation to New York to defend Cambodia’s version of the convention before a UN committee, she said.

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