Women in rural Cambodia can find it especially challenging to participate in leadership roles in their communities due to competing priorities and slow-changing cultural norms.
For over 20 years, Banteay Srei has been working with communities to challenge these norms and to develop women leaders capable of participating in decision-making processes. By strengthening the capacity of these women leaders, we challenge dominant cultural norms and highlight the ways in which men and women can come together to fight for gender equality.
Understanding of rights is central to the empowerment of vulnerable people, giving them the knowledge and tools to find long-term solutions to the issues they face. Through training and coaching, we enable communities to participate and take more responsibility for the development process as they analyse their own situation and act to increase the way in which they and others fulfil their obligations to the community.
Our focus is on beneficiaries as the owners of rights and the directors of development, with an emphasis on the human person as the centre of the development process and of civil society. Particular attention is given to discrimination, equality, equity and vulnerable groups to guard against simply reinforcing existing power imbalances between, for example, women and men, landowners and peasants, and workers and employers.
Alongside knowledge of their rights, Banteay Srei seeks to build the communities capacity and confidence to act in support of those rights. There is a continual learning cycle, where the community is encouraged to analyse where it needs support and training that Banteay Srei can facilitate. The training programmes delivered in communities are consciously not just knowledge-based, but seek to transform attitudes and relationships by encouraging self-understanding, empathy and reflection.
Working with women and men
Banteay Srei has a particular focus on building women’s capacity and solidarity, but in line with current thinking on gender it recognises the importance of also working directly with men to increase their understanding and capacity to advocate. The end result of the process is women and men who can find and analyse their most crucial community issues, and advocate with the appropriate figures for significant and lasting change.