Gender Inequality in Cambodia Still Not Tackled (CEDAW Report)

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Gender Inequality in Cambodia Still Not Tackled (CEDAW Report)

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Long read:
CEDAW and Cambodia: Men Still Benefit from Double Standards
Analysis
Cambodia has made notable progress in constitutionalizing gender equality. However, there is still no solution for persisting gender stereotypes, discrimination of women and marginalized groups and domestic violence.
10 December 2019
By NGO CEDAW (United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women)

Cambodia ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1992 and ratified its Optional Protocol in 2010. Furthermore, by integrating the principle of equal rights for women in the Constitution in 1993 and creating a Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) embraced its commitment to the theory of formal gender equality. However, there are still fundamental challenges to achieving substantive equality between men and women.

The one consistent pattern across all sectors and segments of society is the endurance of negative gender stereotypes. Persistent beliefs that women are less capable than men and expected to conform to traditional roles in the family serve as an obstacle to progress in the implementation of every article of CEDAW.

These attitudes are held by men and women, private and public employers, educators, health professionals, law enforcement officers, and NGO workers. Another pattern is the RGC's understanding of equality as a general goal of formal equality, rather than an obligation to achieve substantial equality in all sectors as soon as possible through temporary special measures, including quotas.
Required NGO influence is a question of money

It is promising that RGC adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), developed and continues to develop new national action plans aimed at reducing gender-based violence and promoting gender equality.

However, there is concern that the budget and resources for implementing these plans rely far too heavily on donations from NGOs and international aid.

While the Cambodian economy is strong and has continued to grow at 7% per year according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, foreign aid has been decreasing. The NGO Forum platforms estimated in 2017 that an additional $700,000 is needed from NGOs to develop programs aimed at achieving the SDGs. RGC will need to increase its own role significantly if progress is to be achieved in an environment where NGOs' influence is ever shrinking. Even though the newest action plans contain budget elements, the plans are still designed based on the interests of short-term donors funding those plans.

For example, in 2019, UN agencies and the Australian government funded the gender assessment and action plan against violence against women, so the priorities of the plans and the assessment mirrored the donors’ goals. It is a positive step that the Ministry of Economy and Finance was invited to participate in consultations, and that trainings were suggested to aid local officials in making budget requests for funding for the Commune Committees on Women and Children.
women rights are human rights

This text is part of our dossier 40 Years CEDAW - The International Bill of Rights for Women.

In December 1979, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was adopted in by the United Nations General Assembly. Our authors sum up the contributions CEDAW has made to the position, rights and everyday life of women is several countries.


There is a lack of strategies to reduce existing stigmata

However, the fundamental problem is that there is no longer-term strategy for the government to use the national budget to achieve the aim of eliminating gender discrimination. Commitments are limited to partial implementation in some districts that already receive funding from foreign sources.

Additionally, while CEDAW requires promotion of rights of all women and girls,

RGC consistently shies away from making official policies and laws that protect marginalized groups including sex workers and LGBT+ individuals, who are often the subject not only of stigma and crime from the general population but are harassed, assaulted and subject to arbitrary arrest by law enforcement officers.

There is a Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) curriculum ready for use in public schools, but educators are reluctant to implement it. Public service videos are available on SOGIE, but television stations (which are all under government control) refuse to air them. The Ministry of the Interior has a training program on gender sensitivity, but it is not known how well it applies international standards, such as UNSC 1325 on avoiding violence against women in conflict situations, including civil strife.
Approaches to problem solving often worsen the situation even further

The government occasionally enacts policies to promote women to address situations that have received media attention, but they are short-lived or attempt to solve problems by reducing women’s choices. For example, when the population of pregnant women and women with small children in prisons gets too high, there is a release of mothers from jails.

Yet, the population rises again because the conditions leading to the problem are not addressed. When there were scandals with foreign spouses neglecting Cambodian wives, the response was to ban all Cambodian women from marrying foreigners without a substantial income. When concerns about the lack of women in leadership was addressed, one woman was assigned to the position of deputy governor in each province.

Yet, never has the CEDAW Article 4 provision of temporary special measures been enacted in a systemic way to address fundamental stereotypes and double-standards that consider men but not women to be qualified for political and business promotions.

No quotas have been introduced, nor have the recommendations of using a zipper-system (alternating men and women’s names on candidate lists) been adopted.
Local authorities are concealing reports of violations of women's rights

The RGC is often reluctant to acknowledge the extent of some problems, such as the role of family members in trafficking cases or the extent of intimate partner violence. Government officials often note that domestic violence (DV) and rape do not happen in some areas because the complaints made to local authorities are not recorded.

Cases are reconciled at the local level even if the result is that rapes are not prosecuted and women are encouraged to stay in abusive situations. The law does not explicitly make nonconsensual sex a crime or a type of DV, and many people do not believe that a woman has the right to refuse sex to a partner or spouse.

CSOs working with indigenous women have noted that even murder cases against women are sometimes not investigated and prosecuted without significant outside intervention (via NGOs or legal aid) on behalf of the victim. There is one known complaint about the issue of rape under the CEDAW Optional Protocol, and the CSO which brought it to the Committee’s attention has been subject to additional government scrutiny in retaliation. The process can continue to be used, but NGO-CEDAW is recommending that any future complaint be done as anonymously as possible.

Currently, the CEDAW review process is a good way to address women’s rights issues because every time CSOs bring the above concerns to the Committee’s attention, the RGC feels obligated to seriously consider the Committee’s questions and concluding observations. Moreover, civil society has been able to obtain some statistics not otherwise available because of this process. The insistence of the Committee to provide additional and updated data is having the positive effect of forcing the RGC to address systemic flaws in its own data collection system.
Approaches to tackling these problems in the future

The goal of advocacy in 2019 at the CEDAW review of Cambodia is to get clearer, focused recommendations from the Committee to address some key issues not addressed in previous sessions. For example, the Committee has asked RGC for more information about key concerns such as:

What mechanism lets women make discrimination complaints?
How is the law on domestic violence being strictly enforced rather than systemically diverted to mediation?
Is the ban on child marriage strictly enforced?

NGO-CEDAW’s alternative response to these questions will point out that RGC needs a comprehensive anti-discrimination law that clearly defines discrimination based on sex, gender identity, disability, ethnicity, race, and religion and provides remedies. CSOs can point out that strict enforcement of existing law actually permits some child marriage and encourages mediation of every domestic violence case. As a result, the Committee can give a clear suggestion to the RGC to establish and amend the laws as needed to address discrimination, and the RGC will feel obligated to work toward following those suggestions.

Civil society organizations anticipate some strong suggestions for the RGC from the CEDAW Committee and are planning awareness raising and advocacy around those concluding observations.
https://www.boell.de/en/2019/12/10/ceda ... -standards
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Re: Gender Inequality in Cambodia Still Not Tackled (CEDAW Report)

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"Persistent beliefs that women are less capable than men and expected to conform to traditional roles in the family [...]"
I'd like to hear about other people's experiences... In my case, my girl and her sister bring the bacon home. They bought a house for the immediate family, a car, a few motorcycles, and still pay for the vast majority of expenses. The three brothers? Professional beer drinkers that spend the little money they earn on brand-new PCXs and cellphones. Yet, the two sisters must say yes to whatever requests the brothers may have.

"While the Cambodian economy is strong and has continued to grow at 7% per year according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, foreign aid has been decreasing. The NGO Forum platforms estimated in 2017 that an additional $700,000 is needed from NGOs to develop programs aimed at achieving the SDGs."
Why not return a dozen Range Rovers back to the dealership? It's about time Cambodia does something on its own. Foreign governments (if they of course don't have ulterior motives) should stop enabling that behavior. It's not helping on the long run.

"However, the fundamental problem is that there is no longer-term strategy for the government to use the national budget to achieve the aim of eliminating gender discrimination."
Does the RGC have a long-term strategy for anything? Is gender discrimination even on the agenda? What we (in the west) perceive as gender discrimination could just be business as usual for Cambodians. Our ideals aren't shared worldwide, no matter how righteous they are.

"The government occasionally enacts policies to promote women to address situations that have received media attention, but they are short-lived or attempt to solve problems by reducing women’s choices."
Isn't it like everything else in Cambodia? "let's pretend we're getting things done. the public will forget and we can resume what we were doing prior to that."

A study released a while ago stated that Thailand is the country in the region with the highest number of female CEOs. Thailand also happens to be among the most successful countries in SEA. Should Cambodia learn something from Thailand?

I've seen/ met too many Cambodian women working their asses off only to be welcomed home by some chicken legged, beer bellied, utterly useless husband/ brother/ father/ cousin. The country can't move forward if the very people that are doing something positive are rewarded with absolute shit.

It'd be nice for people in Cambodia to learn from Rwanda. Very similar stories. Somewhat different outcomes.
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Re: Gender Inequality in Cambodia Still Not Tackled (CEDAW Report)

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While you made some good points, I don't think what happened here and in Rwanda have anything in common, other than the large number of deaths.
The Rwandan genocide lasted less than 100 days, after which the Hutu genocidaires were chased into Zaire. They then helped start a huge war, and DRC is still devastated. Rwanda wasn't bombed, it didn't have it's infrastructure destroyed either, and it wasn't used as a proxy in a cold war.
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Re: Gender Inequality in Cambodia Still Not Tackled (CEDAW Report)

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Queef wrote: Wed Dec 11, 2019 1:27 pm A study released a while ago stated that Thailand is the country in the region with the highest number of female CEOs. Thailand also happens to be among the most successful countries in SEA. Should Cambodia learn something from Thailand?
Less than 50% of Thai businesses are owned by women, compared to more than 65% of Khmer businesses. We're in a country where women own a significant majority of registered businesses and yet this gender inequality narrative is still being pushed. Smh.
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Re: Gender Inequality in Cambodia Still Not Tackled (CEDAW Report)

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John Bingham wrote: Wed Dec 11, 2019 2:00 pm While you made some good points, I don't think what happened here and in Rwanda have anything in common, other than the large number of deaths.
The Rwandan genocide lasted less than 100 days, after which the Hutu genocidaires were chased into Zaire. They then helped start a huge war, and DRC is still devastated. Rwanda wasn't bombed, it didn't have it's infrastructure destroyed either, and it wasn't used as a proxy in a cold war.
True. When I compare Cambodia to Rwanda, I'm basically looking at the genocide and the "reconstruction" efforts that followed the genocide.
Rwanda didn't receive over $2billion of foreign aid, benefit from UNTAC and its ramifications, and didn't have any infrastructure to begin with. Cambodia was used as a proxy during the Cold War, Rwanda was subject to hardcore colonialism, and still is a victim of neo-colonialism.
Different symptoms, similar disease.
Last edited by Queef on Wed Dec 11, 2019 2:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gender Inequality in Cambodia Still Not Tackled (CEDAW Report)

Post by Queef »

Bubble T wrote: Wed Dec 11, 2019 2:15 pm
Queef wrote: Wed Dec 11, 2019 1:27 pm A study released a while ago stated that Thailand is the country in the region with the highest number of female CEOs. Thailand also happens to be among the most successful countries in SEA. Should Cambodia learn something from Thailand?
Less than 50% of Thai businesses are owned by women, compared to more than 65% of Khmer businesses. We're in a country where women own a significant majority of registered businesses and yet this gender inequality narrative is still being pushed. Smh.
The more you know! One thing though, the article I read was referring to conglomerate businesses. Not the street food stall on the sidewalk. If we look at the number of businesses with an annual profit of, let's say, $5 million, I'm sure that 65% goes down to .1%.

This gender equality narrative should be pushed. Not the way it's being done in the west. Fuck. No. But it should be pushed.
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Re: Gender Inequality in Cambodia Still Not Tackled (CEDAW Report)

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Queef wrote: Wed Dec 11, 2019 2:34 pm
Rwanda didn't receive over $2billion of foreign aid...
It sure did, and it has been plundering the DRC for decades:
Rwanda received roughly “US$1.22 billion” in development aid in 2016-2017.
https://www.pambazuka.org/human-securit ... -congolese
Kagame’s central government expenditure is financed by foreign aid to the tune of 70.9%. Rwanda is among the top three most aid-dependent countries in the world and the topmost aid-recipient state in East Africa.
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Re: Gender Inequality in Cambodia Still Not Tackled (CEDAW Report)

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John Bingham wrote: Wed Dec 11, 2019 2:41 pm
Queef wrote: Wed Dec 11, 2019 2:34 pm
Rwanda didn't receive over $2billion of foreign aid...
It sure did, and it has been plundering the DRC for decades:
Rwanda received roughly “US$1.22 billion” in development aid in 2016-2017.
https://www.pambazuka.org/human-securit ... -congolese
Kagame’s central government expenditure is financed by foreign aid to the tune of 70.9%. Rwanda is among the top three most aid-dependent countries in the world and the topmost aid-recipient state in East Africa.
For once, you're posting something interesting :stir:

Proportionally speaking, I guess Rwanda has received more in aid than Cambodia.

My question is: has Rwanda used its foreign aid in a more intelligent manner? Rwanda has been getting a lot of positive media exposure over the past couple of years, ranging from banning single use plastic bags to having a majority of women in government positions.
Last edited by Queef on Wed Dec 11, 2019 3:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gender Inequality in Cambodia Still Not Tackled (CEDAW Report)

Post by SternAAlbifrons »

Cambodia came out of the Vietnamese occupation with really strong commitment to advancing women in the public service. That was still quite apparent in the mid 2000's but seems to have fizzled right out over the past decade or so.

As renown lefty progressive greenie, who is famously "low T" enough to love working with, and under, smart women, I was still bemused/annoyed/mystified at an ad i saw in the Cambodia Daily some years ago.

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Re: Gender Inequality in Cambodia Still Not Tackled (CEDAW Report)

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Traditional indigenous groups now have access to TV. With TV, comes the dying out of local traditions, language, customs, etc. Unless there is serious effort made into having the groups keep all these, it will be gone in a generation or two.

Witness the demise of the love huts.
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