Saturday, 8.3.2008: Chim Manavy: Women Dare to Break the Silence and Get Rid of a Culture Affecting Their Rights

Posted on 9 March 2008. Filed under: Week 550 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 550

“Phnom Penh: At the occasion of the International Women’s Day on 8 March 2008, reporters of Rasmei Kampuchea interviewed Ms. Chim Manavy, the Director of the Open Institute, a local non-governmental organization working in many areas, including for the promotion of the role of women. Below is the content of the interview:

“Question: What do you think about the respect for women’s rights, in particular comparing the situation of one year ago?

During the last several years, we have seen that the respect for women’s rights has grown much, compared to before, because citizens have now a better understanding of human rights. During the same time, the government and civil society organizations pay also more attention to implement policies of gender mainstreaming. Women are encouraged to participate in many social activities. The Commune Council elections provided opportunities for women to show their capacities. They competed with their male counterparts to contribute to the development of their communities. Actually, during the Commune Council elections from 2002 to 2007, we saw an increasing participation of women in the leadership of the country. During the first Commune Council election in 2002, women who stood for election accounted for 919 or 8.16 percent of the total candidates. But at the second Commune Council election on 1 April 2007, the women who stood for election accounted for 21 percent of the total candidates. It made much a difference in relation to women’s participation in decision making. Women who were elected in 2007 as members of Commune Councils totaled 1,662 (but the Ministry of Interior’s figure was 1,683) or 14.64 percent. This was a satisfactory increase if compared to 920 or 8 percent in 2002.

What do Khmer women do to celebrate their day?

8 March is International Women’s Day. Not only Khmer women, but also women in many countries across the globe, celebrate the day. International Women’s Day is an international day to celebrate women’s achievements relating to economic, political, and socio-economic sectors. Many countries (such as Russia and the former states within the Soviet Union) across the globe include International Women’s Day into their culture. The day is not celebrated only in political terms, but it is also celebrated as an opportunity for men to express their love for the women around them. It is similar to Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. Moreover, the topics of politics and human rights, set by the United Nations, has been widely discussed. Information about the struggle of women in the world, concerning political and social issues, have been revealed and analyzed.

“Everybody should do something to participate in celebrating the day according to their respective skills and means. Women can share their good experience with others, they can write poems and stories about themselves and others. These reflect women’s talents, or they are advocacy for the equality between men and women. Women dare to break the silence and get rid of a culture affecting their rights.

When the Open Institute inaugurated a Women’s Web Portal on the Internet, what kind of response have you received from the visitors, and what roles does the Women’s Web Portal play in disseminating the concerns of CEDAW – the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women?

The Women’s Web Portal is an activity of the Open Institute, supported by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development, the Open Society Institute [in the USA], InWEnt [in Germany], and UNESCO. The Women’s Web Portal rectifies some deficiencies in the information about women and their rights. It plays a role as an important tool to disseminate information, and it is a means to communicate and share knowledge with women and among women’s organizations. This will further strengthen existing networks of women relating to empowering women and to improving their work. As permanent member of the Cambodian NGO Committee on the UN Convention on Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Open Institute disseminates on the Women’s Web Portal this Convention, and is providing further comments of the Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW, and other relevant documents for men and women working on CEDAW related concerns. Such information is available on the Women’s Web Portal to promote gender capacity, to help women to use their rights in a balanced manner, and to help build women’s capacity so that they have more self-confidence and self-independence.

“The Women’s Web Portal is a meeting place for interested organizations to share information and to increase cooperation. Electronic information can spread across the country and the world, wherever the Internet can be accessed. Those who receive a lot of information will have much better understanding and can make better decisions.

“Until now, the Women’s Web Portal has attracted more than 300 readers. This figure is not surprising, as the country has only few users of information and communication technology. The readers of the Women’s Web Portal expressed their interest in and their satisfaction for the dissemination of laws and other information relating to rights, in the Khmer language, through electronic communication, which is easy to be researched and read, and is useful for them.

What do you want to say more about the International Women’s Day?

I see that global trends and the government’s goodwill have made the situation of Cambodian women turn for the better. The government promotes policies on gender mainstreaming, to be implemented by state institutions, civil society organizations, and in the private sector. However, discrimination against women still exists, as women have not yet received full support from men. This has also caused women to lack self-confidence. To change discriminative attitudes against women, women have to try their best to build up and to promote their capacities, so that they can influence other people, become key agents for social change, work towards progress, and contribute to build a society with knowledge and justice.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4535, 8.3.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 8 March 2008

Areyathor, Vol. 14, #1312, 8-9.3.2008

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen Is Not Afraid of the Sam Rainsy Party’s Youth Movement, but He Is Afraid that Young People Will Be Cheated and Their Future Will Be Destroyed

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1587, 8.3.2008

  • Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia [ECCC] Lays Blame on Journalists [at an ECCC’s press conference, ECCC legal officials gave examples of interference by journalists related to Kaing Guek Eav – also known as Duch]
  • Cambodian Outstanding Mathematics Students Receive Two Silvers and One Copper Medal [Program for Young Researchers of Science and Mathematics, Malaysia, 3-6 March 2008]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6291, 8.3.2008

  • Khmer Rouge Tribunal Officials and Journalists Discuss that ECCC Press Rules Are Stricter than Cambodian Press Law [conference on press freedom hosted by the Cambodian Club of Journalists and the Documentation Center of Cambodia]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3407, 8.3.2008

  • Sam Rainsy: Economy in Cambodia Has Failed [his arguments: corruption, high rate of unemployment, inflation]
  • On International Women’s Day, Mr. Sam Rainsy Appeals to Men as Husbands to Respect and Love Their Wives to Live in Happiness

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4535, 8.3.2008

  • Chim Manavy: Women Dare to Break the Silence and Get Rid of a Culture Affecting Their Rights
  • Funcinpec Lodges Complaint, Requesting Payment of US$1 Million in Compensation for Statement that Samdech Euv’s Daughter Has a First and a Second Husband [an official of the Norodom Ranariddh Party is accused for defamation and misinformation on Princess Norodom Arunrasmy, prime minister candidate of Funcinpec]
  • Thousands of Sam Rainsy Party Members in Phnom Penh Join Cambodian People’s Party [said CPP officials in a ceremony to welcome new members]
  • Director General [Lee Doo-Hyung] of the Korean Financial Supervisory Commission Arrived in Cambodia [on 6 March 2008, to examine the situation of economic development; he will cooperate to create a bond market in late 2009, according to information from the Ministry of Finance and Economy]

Sralanh Khmer, Vol. 3, #640, 8.3.2008

  • Hun Sen Has Many Kinds of Advisors: Special, Normal, Senior, Direct, and Indirect. [Editorial]

Have a look at last week’s editorial

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3 Responses to “Saturday, 8.3.2008: Chim Manavy: Women Dare to Break the Silence and Get Rid of a Culture Affecting Their Rights”

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Cambodia is on currently on the move to many sectoral developments; this means that everyone needs to contribute individually and for collective benefits. I do support the idea of women’s full social participation. Imagine that we will enjoy more growths and such the growths will respond to the needs of men and women.

Vicheka Lay
Researcher and Writer

Dear Vicheka
Thank you very much for your comment. Many of us support the idea of having equal participation between women and men in a society. But thing is moving very slowly. Despise the fact that the rights of women to equality and non-discrimination are enshrined in a number of international instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and The CEDAW, the persistence of laws and customs, however, make women second class citizens or expose them to abuse paints a different picture.

We should put more efforts and energy on this. The CEDAW which was signed and ratified by many countries, but changes are slowly happened. It is about the change in our mindset and behavior toward women and, it should start from us and our family first.


Dear Manavy,

To begin with, you have all my support to better women’s social position in Cambodia. We do not need to steer them by going to far like raising the example for Cambodian female kings, to me this is not practical. Invite a women has you see as a real model for Cambodian women, especially those in business, bit and small, and provide their personal success stories and definition.

To be steering the women to be confident or to be ambitious as man can’t be done via giving the material to read, but by telling them the real examples.

You shall be the one who starts this campaing.


Vicheka Lay
Researcher and Writer

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