In Cambodia, the representation of women in the political arena remains low. Only 20% of the member of the national assembly are women.
The persisting imbalance of gender representation and low participation of women in the political field is attributed to the conservative traditional culture of Khmer society. Even those women already in position continue to face discrimination from their male colleagues. They are given little roles when it comes to decision-making. Moreover, women are forced to support men’s decisions instead of asserting their interests in fear of losing their position. They are mostly given positions in sectors concerning childhood, women, and social policies, which are given little attention, little decision-making power, and minimal budget. Therefore, they are not able to further develop skills needed for promotion, unlike their male counterparts who have more extraordinary decision-making powers.
Furthermore, there is also the issue of poverty, illiteracy, and lack of opportunities and encouragement for females to participate actively in the political arena. Education and health resources are among the differing issues between rural and urban communities. Indigenous women could not run for a position because of the question of literacy. It is required by law that candidates must be able to speak and write Khmer, which is being deprived of indigenous women, thus also depriving them of the right to be represented.
In addition, the government lacks commitment to establishing reforms in promoting gender empowerment and participation. The environment within political parties, in particular, must be encouraging for women to be able to participate actively since political parties serve as the gateway for women to gain positions in government.
Women’s organizations are working towards developing women’s participation in politics and raising awareness for women’s rights. They have recognized the need for training those who participate in movements concerning women’s political empowerment.
Labani, S., Kaehler, C. Z., & Ruiz, P. d. (2008-2009). Gender analysis of women’s political participation in 7 South East Asian countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, East Timor and Vietnam. Enjambra.