Gender Justice: What should be done in Cambodia?

This is a drawing made by Ms. Heng Chandy, one one of 13 Gender Action Learning System (GALS) champions in the project implemented by Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC) and Oxfam. Chandy unlocked her talents and ignited her passion for promoting gender awareness, participating in community development, improving her leadership skills and supporting other women in her community. Photo: Heng Chandy

Cambodia faces immense challenges to deliver high-level commitment to promote gender equality and meet the Cambodia’s Sustainable Development targets. Cambodia’s maternal mortality ratio is 161 per every 100,000 live birth. About 15% of adult women have reached at least a secondary level of education as of 2019. Violence against women is alarming. A 2015 study commissioned by the government and UN, reported that 32% of partnered women experienced emotional abuses by an intimate partner in their lifetime, while 21% experienced physical or/and sexual violence. Another UN multicounty study in 2014 reported that 32.8% of men participated in the study reported perpetrating physical or/and sexual violence against an intimate partner in their lifetime. One in five men reported raping a woman or girl.

The impact of gender inequality has greater impact on Cambodia’s development. Cambodia makes slow progress in all global development indicators. 2017 Cambodia’s Human Development Index (HDI) value was 0.582, falling to 0.469 after the inequality adjustment which was below the average values of East Asia and the Pacific (0.619) and Medium HDI (0.483). Cambodia’s 2017 Gender Inequality Index (GII) value was 0.473, placing Cambodia at 116th out of 160 countries which was behind other ASEAN countries.

To address the issues faced by women in Cambodia, Oxfam works to promote gender justice and women’s rights in Cambodia. We work with farmers, domestic workers, street vendors, garment factory workers, entertainment workers, and other women in Cambodia. We work to bring gender justice through increase women’s participation at all societal spheres, promoting gender transformative leadership in the household and community, enlarge women’s economic opportunity, and putting women’s rights at the heart of all we do. Oxfam work from the financial capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, to remote areas where majority of Cambodian live under vulnerable and marginalized conditions. We also inspire young people to take action to make lasting solutions for our next generation.

Oxfam also work with partners, development partners and the public sectors to achieve our ambitious objective of promoting gender justice. We suggest that all stakeholders should focus on:

  • Change behavior of boys, girls, women and men through education, especially gender transformative behavioral-changes in early childhood education.
  • Change attitude of women and men to share unpaid care work within the household
  • Recognize the value of unpaid care work for society and national’s economic development
  • Increase accessibility of pension and maternal protection schemes to women working in the informal and agricultural sectors.
  • Increase women’s economic opportunity though providing enabling environment to accessing to fair financial service.
  • Encourage men to share power and authority with women in the household and community
  • Increase investment on infrastructure, such as childcare center, clean water, and community health center, and so on, to reduce the physically demanding tasks.
  • Promote women’s economic empowerment through designing an inclusive and responsive national strategy on women’s economic empowerment.
  • Tackle harmful beliefs and conventional social norms that discourage both men and women to work together to promote human equality in society
  • Provide an equal opportunity to women and men in accessing resources to cope with climate shocks including adaptation, mitigation and other climate transformative measures.


Text by: Sotheary You/Oxfam