This week saw six Australian parliamentarians visit two Cambodian garment factories to learn more about how CARE’s activities are having a positive impact on women in Phnom Penh.
The visit aimed to provide them with a first-hand experience of Australian-funded aid programs in developing countries. It was organised by Save the Children Australia and included an action-packed schedule to see the work of many organisations working in Cambodia—with CARE’s garment factory activities being one of the highlights of the trip.
Sharon Claydon , MP, Dan Tehan, MP, and Lisa Chesters, MP, went to one factory where the focus was on helping ensure female workers can make informed choices about contraception and that they know where to go to get quality health services. After touring the factory’s facilities – which includes a library run by CARE’s partner Sipar – they joined a small group of workers to watch a new video discussion session. The fun drama series features young female garment workers as they navigate choices about their relationships and was developed as part of Partnering to Save Lives.
After a guided discussion allowing the women to clarify what they had learned, the MPs had the opportunity to ask a few questions of their own. They were excited to talk to individual workers about their lives, education and what they’ve learned from CARE’s programs in garment factories. Workers shared that they now know where to go for good quality health services to prevent them becoming pregnant because they now have better information about contraception. This is something that is not taught in Cambodian schools, which do not currently include any sex education in their curriculum, so many young women who migrate to the city for work have no knowledge of how to protect themselves from pregnancy.
The Hon. Darren Chester, MP, Gai Brodtman, MP, and Senator Linda Reynolds visited a different factory nearby. While they were also able to join a video discussion session, their visit had an additional focus on CARE’s work to prevent sexual harassment and gender-based violence. They spoke to the HR manager who has been leading CARE’s consultation to create a workplace sexual harassment policy which works for factories and provides strong protections for their workers.
As they toured the factory the MPs saw the large posters the factory now displays saying that sexual harassment will not be tolerated in their workplace. On the tour they were joined by Sreyneang, the factory’s compliance officer who also starred in CARE’s recent karaoke video!
As the visit came to a close many people said how impressed they were with CARE’s work to improve the well-being of women in Cambodia’s garment factories. Seeing Australian aid in action helps people to understand the impact this can have on the lives of individual women in Cambodia. CARE hopes that all those who joined the trip will return home with many stories of their own to share.
CARE Cambodia’s Australian-funded projects include Local Economic Leaders, Education for Ethnic Minorities, WASH in Schools and Communities, Protections for Marginalised Urban Women and Partnering to Save Lives.