Sunday 25 October 2015 saw two members of parliament— Her Excellency H.E. Lork Kheng and H.E. His Excellency Hun Many—join a tuk tuk parade in Phnom Penh to launch the global Orange Day campaign in Cambodian communities.
The parade was the culmination of an event which saw over 200 commune and district representatives commit to take action to end violence against women in their community. Attendees, including representatives from various ministries and Posen Chey district governor, walked through a gallery of posters showing quotes about the importance of ensuring that women in Cambodia are safe from violence before hearing from guest speakers and posting their own individual commitments.
Orange Day events are held around the world on the 25th of every month to raise awareness for preventing violence against women. This particular event, organised by CARE’s local partner People Health Development Association (PHD), aimed to generate interest from local authorities. Their involvement was endorsed by H.E. Hun Many, who said, “I believe that the active participation of local authorities…will allow the Orange Day campaign to be successful….Everything starts from awareness. This will lead to positive change.”
Community members sometimes view events promoting gender equality as only aimed at women, so there was a particular focus on getting men involved with this campaign. Wenny Kusuma, Country Representative for UN Women in Cambodia, said: “We are saying to men ‘can you please be our allies?’ When you see men degrading women… please stop them. Because violence against women will not be stopped without men.”
Her message was echoed by H.E. Lork Kheng who urged everybody in the room to become personal champions of ending violence against women. “We must work harder to encourage our sons to be role models, to be heroes within the community. I applaud this District’s commitment shown today; I want all men in Posen Chey District to be good men, models and heroes. Please share this message with other men.”
For CARE and PHD, the commitments of those at the event are even more positive as they represent men from all walks of life. “We are very impressed that so many people – from tuk tuk drivers to members of parliament – were able to join together for this Orange Day event,” says PHD Executive Director Ratanak Ou. “This event brought together a large number of men and boys all from different backgrounds and areas, but all showing their commitment for one common goal.”
This was the first of many Orange Day events planned for communities. Following this event, the deputy governor of Posen Chey district has committed that they will organise their own events in communes for future Orange Days. CARE and PHD hope that other districts will follow their lead and stand up to say that violence against women is not acceptable in any community.
Orange Day is part of the United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence Against Women campaign. CARE and local partner PHD implement Orange Day activities under the Safe Workplaces, Safe Communities project, which is funded by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women.