April saw over 150 people – including high level representatives from two different government Ministries – gather in Koh Kong province to explore the benefits of promoting women’s leadership within their communities, particularly in agriculture.
CARE’s Local Economic Leaders project has been actively encouraging women to develop their skills and confidence to run their own businesses, manage their family income and be role models in their communities. Training in everything from running small agricultural businesses to setting up community savings groups has helped women gain recognition for their achievements.
The event aimed to showcase women's elevated roles within their families and communities, demonstrating the value they bring to these. Men and local authorities also commented on the changes they had witnessed in the women who work with CARE and the impact this is having in their communities.
These successes received glowing praise from government representatives attending the event. Her Excellency Kim Siphat, Director of Gender and Family Economic Development department of Ministry of Women Affairs, spoke of how CARE’s work is directly aligned with the Ministry’s strategic plan and encouraged local authorities to allocate budget to invest in similar activities.
She also promoted women’s engagement in the running of their own communities: “I would like to encourage local authorities to consider and select talented women trained by this project to be candidates in the 2017 commune council elections.”
Her words were echoed by Her Excellency Oung Heng, Advisor and Permanent Deputy Director of Gender and Children team at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. “I am very glad to get to know that the project has been promoting women’s leadership role at community level,” she said.
In particular, she commented on CARE’s efforts to increase the number of women in traditionally male-dominated roles. “I am very surprised to see female village animal health workers here. There are only male village animal health workers across Cambodia, but here CARE’s efforts have been making a difference ... I feel proud seeing the women from communities here are full of courage to perform their roles and be able to help make income for their family.”
The event highlighted that CARE is not only contributing to existing government policy, but is also showing expertise in areas the government wishes to focus on in the future. “We are also working to prepare a strategic plan on improving gender in agriculture and animal production,” said Mrs. Ok Savin, Deputy Director of Animal Health and Production Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. “What we are finding out here is that CARE has already worked on it. I am very glad and strongly support CARE’s activities promoting and improving women’s lives and status at community level.”
The Local Economic Leaders project is funded by the Australian Government.