Civil society organisations call for political parties to further promote women’s and children’s issues

On 3 July 2013, a group of civil society organizations (“CSOs”) jointly organized a national political platform debate on “Special Measures to Solve Women’s and Children’s Issues” (the “Debate”).  CSOs were pleased to welcome to the Debate representatives from seven of the eight political parties who are contesting the National Assembly elections to be held on Sunday, 28 July 2013. The political party representatives were invited to present their parties’ political platforms with regards to special measures to solve women’s and children’s issues in Cambodia and specifically on the implementation of a quota system to increase the representation of women in politics at all levels of decision-making.

While some of the political party representatives put forward their party’s strategies to solve women’s and children’s issues, others did not address these issues separately from their general policies. Some of the political party representatives would not engage with the issue of a quota system to increase number of women’s political representation and disappointingly there was no clear commitment to a reform of electoral law.

Following the Debate, the CSOs suggest that all political parties set up separate strategies and policies to specifically address women’s and children’s issues during the fifth mandate of the National Assembly. The CSOs recommend that the following be included in party policies:

  • The implementation of voluntary gender quotas within their internal party regulations as an immediate mechanism to increase the number of female candidates and the number of women on parties internal governing boards and in other decision-making structures within the parties;
  • Support for reform of electoral laws to include mandatory candidate quotas to ensure female representation at all levels of governance and politics;
  • The use of media networks to effectively to promote the rights of women and children, to ensure access to justice and to promote freedom of expression and information;
  • The provision of greater access to people especially to women  to media sources across the country for the purposes of encouraging women’s participation in politics, promoting gender equality and non-discrimination, preventing violence against women and increasing information about health care;
  • The strengthening of legislation and law enforcement to better protect women affected by problems such as migration, trafficking, rape, and gender-based violence, to abolish the culture of immunity that exists around these crimes and to punish those who abuse their duties and responsibilities;
  • Improving women’s access to education as a means to improve opportunities for and capabilities of women to be represented in politics and in decision-making positions at all levels, as well as in other sectors; and
  • Implementing specific strategies to prevent high numbers of girls from dropping out of school.

In response to these proceedings, the joint organizing committee of the Debate comments:

“We believe that this debate served as a key opportunity for voters to make informed decisions, ahead of the National Assembly Elections on 28 July 2013, as to whether political parties have provided special measures to solve women’s and children’s issues in their parties’ political platforms. We encourage all voters to go and vote according to their will or conscience.”

The Debate was jointly organized with the collaboration of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (“COMFREL”), the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (“CCHR”), Committee to Promote Women in Politics (“CPWP”), PAZ Y DESARROLLO (“PYD”), Women for Prosperity (“WfP”) and Women for All Network at the Sunway Hotel, Phnom Penh. The purpose of this Debate was to provide representatives of political parties with the opportunity to present and discuss their party’s political platform in relation to solving women’s and children’s issues, and to address issues identified by non-governmental organizations (“NGOs”) and CSOs during previous discussions and development activities with citizens. The event provided Cambodian citizens, NGOs and CSOs with the opportunity to access information about women’s and children’s rights and demonstrated the need to vote in the National Assembly Elections 2013, to ensure action and policy change in regards to these rights.

For more information, please contact:

Mrs. Sonket Sereyleak, Education and Gender Coordinator of COMFREL, via tel. at 017 49 40 04 or e-mail: sereyleak@comfrel.org

Mrs. Men Vannavy, Program Coordinator of CPWP Secretariat, via tel. at 016 949 997 or email at pc@cpwp.net

Mrs. Chor Chanthyda, Coordinator of the Project to Promote Women’s Political Representation in Cambodia of CCHR via tel. at +855 (0) 12 515 506 or e-mail at  thyda@cchrcambodia.org

Banteay Srei attends training workshop on the Optional Protocol for the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (OP-CEDAW)

OPCEDAW photo

From 4-5 July, a member of Banteay Srei’s staff attended a training hosted by Khmer Youth Association at the Cambodiana Hotel, Phnom Penh on how to submit a communication under the Optional Protocol (OP) to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The objectives of this training were to increase understanding among participants of the basic features and requirements of OP-CEDAW, to build capacity in using OP-CEDAW to advance women’s human rights in Cambodia and to identify potential cases that can be submitted under OP-CEDAW.

The two day training workshop began with opening comments from Jenna Holiday from UN Women and Wan-Hea Lee from OHCHR endorsing the use and practical implications of submitting cases to OP-CEDAW to raise the profile of women’s rights issues in Cambodia and bring governments to justice on an international platform

The optional protocol for CEDAW was ratified in Cambodia in October 2010 and through the legislation of this treaty, it means that an individual complaint of violations of women’s rights outlined in the CEDAW convention can be brought before the CEDAW committee for judgement and investigation.

This convention provides an excellent tool for civil societies in Cambodia to advocate for beneficiaries at an international level. During the training Mr Ton Vong provided an overview of the international human rights treaties system and Catherine Phoung then proceeded to outline the key features and principles of CEDAW so that all participants of the training had a greater understanding of the treaty and what this can mean in real terms for legislative change in Cambodia.

Individual communications under OP-CEDAW were encouraged and participants received a blow by blow account of what to expect throughout this process. Key case studies which have won cases through the committee were brought to light and participants discussed possible outcomes of a successful communication of complaint at length.

Participants learned how to submit a complaint and practised using case studies to get to grips with required information and identifying violated articles of CEDAW. It it hoped that civil societies in Cambodia will utilise this mechanism to raise the profile of women’s rights issues in the country, to create international awareness of the issues encountered and most of all to hold the government accountable for change and to encourage and equal society for men and women alike with the support of an internationally acclaimed council.