Perspectives: Women's Economic Empowerment and Gender Justice

When women succeed in economy, they gain the respect from their family and the community, their potential will be seen by the community, then it may lead them towards the leading roles in the community.

Ms Ros Sopheap, Executive Director, Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC)

The role of Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC) is to prevent violence against women and to promote women into leadership, especially young women. So far, we have been involved in changing people's attitudes and perceptions so that they understand the potential of women in contributing to social development.

Economy and finance are keys to improving situation for women and achieving gender equality. In order for women to be financially independent, we have launched a campaign known as “Empowerment of Women through Small Economic Empowerment Projects” in three provinces: Pursat, Kampong Chhnang and Prey Veng. The target groups are couples because we think that if we do not pay close attention to the understanding of husbands or male partners about the females' participation in economic development in the family, then they will not understand their female partners' roles. As such, they will not be able to help the women whom we provide supports in terms of strengthening their capacity and earning capability. Moreover, we focus our attention to same-sex couples for they are also in need of equality, justice and social recognition.

In the campaign, we use Oxfam’s tool called “Gender Action Learning System (GALS)”. In this tool, we include both men and women so that they can think of the goals in the first and subsequence years of their small-sized businesses. So far, we have seen success in both men and women participants. Due to the success of the 2018 pilot project, we are extending it into 2019 and 2020. By the end of 2020, we expect that women would have enjoyed economic independence, rights to make decisions in the family, and would not be subject to abuses especially domestic violence. These positive changes would also set good examples for their children. When a family is successful, they can share the success to the community, and we strive to continue this campaign in order for other communities to follow suit.

When women succeed in economy, they gain the respect from their family and the community, their potential will be seen by the community, then it may lead them towards the leading roles in the community. Here, we focus on young women who have the greatest potential to work with the community to eliminate violence. When the violence is eradicated, the family is in harmony, the community is at peace, and the society will be prosperous.