Challenges in Addressing Gender Inequality in Cambodia
The attention of gender equality at all level and in all sectors of policy has become a global concern in the modern period. The recognition of gender equality has been internationally demonstrated by the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), followed by the Beijing Declaration on Platform of Action (BPfA), adopted in the Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW). The global framework has contextualized to address the problem of gender inequality with the emergence of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Fundamentally proven, the third principle of MDGs aims to address gender inequality in the global scale (Kasumi, 2011). Attached with that, Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has formulated Cambodian Millennium Development Goals (CMDGs) with the combination of other national instruments, civil society and private sector for the promotion of gender equality in Cambodia (JICA, 2007 & Kasumi, 2011).
Many national institutions and mechanisms have been established under the umbrella of RGC. As a line ministry, Ministry of Women Affairs, established in 1996, is responsible particularly for the interests of Women. Low-level administrations under this ministry are also mandated to deal with gender discrimination (JICA, 2007 & GAD/C et al., 2009). With the inspiration from 1993 constitution and CEDAW, Ministry of Women Affairs has influenced major development plan including Rectangular Strategy for Growth, Employment, Equity, and Efficiency and National Strategic Development Plan. The fruitful outcome is Neary Rattank, a legal strategic plan, which serves as a main mechanism focused specifically on gender equality in the society (JICA, 2007 & Kasumi, 2011). However, the promotion of gender equality and women empowerment by legal means has faced some challenges: the relative-gender stereotype in rural families (Kasumi, 2011 & Gorman, Pon & Sok, 1999), the traditional restriction by the society (Gorman, Pon & Sok, 1999, Kasumi, 2011 & UN in Cambodia & RGC, 2010 & Kasumi, 2011), and the lack of law enforcement (Rushdy, 2009 & UN in Cambodia & RGC, 2010)
Firstly, although laws and regulations imposed by government authority are there, at the grass-roots level, gender-bias still dominates in the perspective of many rural families. Most parents give the priority to sons while daughters are more likely to be restricted their liberty. In this sense, sons are potentially encouraged to attend higher education, whereas, daughters are supposed to stay at home (Gorman, Pon & Sok, 1999 & Kasumi, 2011). Additionally, female household labor is another consideration why daughters are limited to access to education and other resources. Daughters tend to be responsible for taking care of younger brothers and sisters and in charge of housework tasks. Wives, similarly, possess the same responsibilities. In rural area, women are expected to be married to support...