Workshop Focuses on Women’s Political Roles

With elections little more than a month away, women’s participation in local politics has drawn attention from domestic and international communities, be­coming the topic of discussion last week for several women’s groups.

Female parliamentarians and activists from Cambodia, Indo­nesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand gathered Friday for the Women’s Political Voice in Asean workshop at the Sunway Hotel to discuss creating a non-violent political atmosphere.

Minister of Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua said Sunday that political violence and intimidation throughout South­east Asia is a continuing concern that could threaten the region’s human rights and democracy.

“We have to ensure free, fair and nonviolent elections…to develop a common vision and perspective for politically active women in Asean,” she said.

Mu Sochua noted that the number of women in leadership positions in Cambodia pales in comparison to the female population. Women, comprising 51 percent of the population, were granted the right to participate equally in political life in 1993.

“Encouragement for women to participate in politics is half-hearted among both family and the community and, for the most part, is only lip service,” she said.

In the July 27 elections, 493 wo­men are running for office, almost 26 percent of the country’s 1,905 office-seekers, Mu Sochua said. Almost 600 other women from 25 parties are on reserve to replace those candidates if they cannot fulfill their duties, she said.

A professor from the German National School of Administration will discuss women’s role in politics today at a workshop sponsored by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and Buddhism for Development at the World Vision Auditorium in Phnom Penh.

Meanwhile, at a separate event Sunday with about 800 garment workers and sex workers to bolster awareness of counter-trafficking activities at Phnom Penh’s Oxfam Hong Kong office, Mu Sochua said select government officials abuse their power and money to buy girls for use as sex workers. She called on officials to punish everyone for sex offenses.

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