9 facts affecting women in Cambodia: International Women’s Day 2015

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2015, CARE Cambodia is highlighting the different areas which affect the lives of women in Cambodia – from health and education to economic opportunities and freedom from violence. Drawn from common attitudes and recent research, these nine pieces of information give an overview of the situation faced by many women in Cambodia.

The 2015 theme for International Women’s Day is Make It Happen. CARE’s work is helping women to benefit equitably from social change – we want to #makeithappen!

1: Article 45 of the Constitution of Cambodia states that all forms of discrimination against women shall be abolished.[1]

CARE works to #makeithappen by empowering women to have their voices heard in their families, communities and in national decision-making.

2: According to the traditional Cambodian Code of Conduct for Women (Chbab Srey) women are considered to have lower status than men and the attributes outlines of the ‘ideal woman’ remain influential.

Changing attitudes within communities is key to ensure men and women are valued equally—CARE is engaging with community members, particularly men, in Cambodia to help #makeithappen.

3: Women represent 51.4 percent of the formal labour force in Cambodia, predominantly in the garment industry and the tourism and hospitality sectors.[2]

CARE’s work with private sector partners is helping ensure women have access to decent work where they are free from discrimination.

4: Women working in key sectors such as the garment industry in Cambodia perceive a regular and daily risk of sexual harassment. [3]

No woman should fear sexual harassment while at work and employers should have policies to prevent this from occurring—CARE is working with garment factory managers to #makeithappen.

5: The Maternal Mortality Ratio more than halved between 2005 and 2010.[4]

CARE wants to see this decrease even further, which is why many of CARE’s projects in Cambodia focus on maternal and child health so we can #makeithappen.

6: In remote Ratanak Kiri province where many students are from indigenous communities, only 13 per cent of students enrol in secondary school and just 19 percent of girls who enrol will complete their schooling. [5]

Over a decade of work increasing access to education among ethnic minority students has helped address the specific barriers faced by girls.

7: The types of income generating activities that women engage in are closely determined by their gender roles; in rural areas, backyard chicken and small-scale pig production are considered women’s business.[6]

CARE is encouraging women to increase their participation within the community so that their wants and needs are heard.

8: Women in Cambodia may believe that getting married when pregnant is “bad luck” and “disrespectful to ancestors”. [7]

CARE believes all women should be able to make informed decisions about using contraception so they can prevent unplanned pregnancies—CARE’s work on reproductive health is helping to #makeithappen.

9: Local authorities are often hesitant to formally report cases of sexual assault for fear of ruining the woman’s reputation.[8]

CARE’s work with police and authorities aims to help them understand how to adequately respond to reports of sexual violence.

To learn more about CARE's work with women in Cambodia, read a publication about preventing sexual harassment and gender-based violence, watch a video about supporting indiginous girls to access education, or find out more about how we engage with urban migrants in garment factories.

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[1] CARE Cambodia, Legal Analysis: Sexual Harassment in Cambodia (2015).

[2] ILO, Action-oriented research on gender equality and the working and living conditions of garment factory workers in Cambodia (2012).

[3] CARE Cambodia, Safe Workplaces Safe Communities: Baseline for program indicators (2014)

[4] Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey (2010).

[5] Referenced in the endline survey for CARE’s School Governance project (2014)

[6] CARE Cambodia, Gendered Market Analysis in Koh Kong Province (2015).

[7] Partnering to Save Lives, Reproductive Health: Garment Factory Worker Perceptions (2014)

[8] CARE Cambodia, Safe Workplaces Safe Communities: Baseline for program indicators (2014)

See the Socially Marginalised Women program in action
See the  Ethnic Minority Women program in action

© CARE Cambodia 2018

CARE is an international development organisation fighting global poverty, with a special focus on working with women and girls to bring sustainable changes to their communities. 

Defending dignity. Fighting Poverty.