From a Less Confident Person to Becoming an Agent of Change for Gender Equality
After engaged in CARE, Ms. Sum Phally has the courage, knowledge, skills and ability to promote gender equality in the context of migration. “CARE made me more confident to work for gender equality and migration issue within my district,” she said.
Mrs. Sum Phally has been the Deputy Governor in Basedth district for three years and she promotes women’s rights. When she was young, she lost her father, and it was the most difficult time in her life. She feels impressed by her mother's difficulties in earning money without much education. She identified her neighbors who were mostly dependent on their husband. This situation urged her to have a higher education and a good job.
As the Deputy Governor, she still feels less confident in doing public speaking, facilitating, providing supervision and coaching to her subordinates within district and commune level. CARE’s Trans Border Migration project cooperated with Basedth district since early of 2020.
Mrs. Phally is the government counterpart with the project. She has completed the training on safe migration, violence against women (VAW), human trafficking, facilitation skills and basic counselling. The knowledge and skills enhanced her capacity to provide coaching support, do follow-up and can reflect better on migration matters to ensure peer networks have enough skills to deliver outreach activities through district mechanisms more effectively.
In her role, she faced challenges on gender inequality such as role and decision-making. Mrs. Phally thought it might be related to social norms that view women have less competency than men due to the education, knowledge, skills and experiences. These challenges affected her decision-making, quality of performance and behind plan. To solve this, she talked with her subordinators and colleagues with diplomatic words. She practices and applies supervision and coaching skills to district officials, commune officials, CCWC members and peer network educators. She also brought this matter to discuss in the district committee to ensure all the work aligns with the district implementation plan. In this way, she ensures there is no overlap in the roles and responsibilities at all levels. Hence, people around Mrs. Phally got to understand better and started to cooperate with her as well as change their norm that women lead have less competency than men.
Mrs.Phally also identified that a few Commune Committee for Women and Children (CCWC) focal points face similar challenges. She brought the discussion on gender equality and gender roles to the District Women Children Consultative Committee(DWCCC) meetings and CCWC meetings in all communes to raise awareness across the district. The intervention helps district officials increase knowledge on gender equality and have equal chances to lead. Mrs. Phally is also a motivator using soft power, “Amazing! Peer network educators are braver than me to talk and lead the awareness raising in the community.”
She advocated and talked with commune officials related to the late monthly allowance for CCWC contract staff due to late submission of relevant support documents. The root causes of this are related to the complicated process and the poor collaboration of some local authorities who do not acknowledge CCWC as women lead and work directly with the commune chief. As a result of her advocacy, those CCWC focal points received monthly allowances on time and were recognized by the district governor committee.
Mrs. Phally performance has helped improve the gender equality in the Basedth district government structure. The local authorities and peer networks educators recognize her as an enthusiastic leader with a strong will to give back to her community and support women migrant workers to access information and education.
“I feel empowered and proud to get the position as the deputy governor which I never dreamed of. I wish to see all girls and women in my community to complete high school at least so they, can access to all necessary information to become independent women, especially women migrant workers.” Mrs. Phally said.
Mrs. Phally thinks that the project is important to her as an individual and the community. She expressed that CARE’s project, with support from Spotlight Initiative through the joint ILO-UN Women Safe and Fair (SAF) Programme, helped her to gain more capacity and full implementation in the community. She found that community members and migrant workers are able to reflect on their migration experiences from undocumented to documented migrants. They also able to think more critically on preventing unexpected risks during migration cycle. This also impacts the community members to better understand the consequences of migration.