Swisscontact Cambodia Looks Through Gender Lens

Initial vocational education and training, Labour market insertion, Entrepreneurial ecosystems, Sustainable tourism, Sustainable agriculture
As much as we pay attention on the results of our programme implementation, we put real effort in ensuring that our works translate to better gender equality and social inclusion as they are the guiding principles we always believe in. To celebrate 2020 International Women’s Day, Swisscontact in Cambodia would like to elaborate some inspiring aspects related to women across our programmes and offices.

Skills Development Programme (SDP)
Throughout the years, the Skills Development Programmes (SDP) has trained more than 2,600 young Cambodians in skills related to technical and vocational training and education. About 60% of the graduates are female from disadvantaged families in rural provinces of Kratie, Stung Treng, Preah Vihear, Mondul Kiri and Ratanak Kiri.

Phayuk Morm is a young enthusiastic woman from a poor family in Preah Vihear province’s Kouy ethnic minority group. Prior to the enrollment in the SDP, she dropped out of school to seek for a job to support a family of 6, but she could not find one that can be relied on. As if it weren’t hard enough for her, her family was frauded by a broker who promised a good job for her and her brother as an exchange for some monetary incentive. She had never been granted the job, and worse, her family was then indebted.

In the midst of crisis, a sign of hope emerged. Phayuk learned about the skills training with the SDP during the programme’s community mobilisation at her village. She immediately made up her mind that she had to have a proper skill for a proper employment. In early 2019, she participated in the SDP’s plumbing profession training at National Polytechnic Institute of Angkor (NPIA) in Siem Reap. After graduation, she now works for a local construction company for a wage of USD 210 per month, enabling her to contribute more to her family livelihood and to further learn more related skills.

In Cambodia, plumbing is not considered a common job for a woman, let alone one from a rural ethnic minority group; however, Phayuk inspiringly made it anyhow.

Mekong Inclusive Growth and Innovation Programme (MIGIP)
In agriculture, the Mekong Inclusive Growth and Innovation Programme (MIGIP) paves a way for smallholder farmers to have better access to agriculture practices and technologies, improved crop quality and commercial orientation of agriculture technologies.

On the implementation level, 6 young women, with other 3 men colleagues, are driving various activities from mobilising local farmers to working in partnership with the public sector and private companies, aiming at establishing an enhanced systematic change in agriculture sector in Cambodia.

Davith is a MIGIP officer from a farmer family in Battambang’s Ratanak Mondul district. She hopes that her and other women colleagues’ presence in the agriculture sector can inspire other women, decision makers and farmers to put more attention on gender equality within the sector.

Davith witnesses that women play just as important roles as men in the field, but they get less power on decision making in agriculture activities. “I can understand that this issue is quite traditional because we think men do more than women in term of physical contribution. Working in agriculture sector, I am empowered to make decisions that contribute to the development of the sector, and I am a woman.”

Regional Investment Support for Entrepreneurship (RISE)
On a different note, in 2019, Swisscontact’s Regional Investment Support for Entrepreneurship (RISE) platform provided its technical assistant assignment by supporting a women-led company, Natural Agriculture Village, a supplier of safe-to-consume horticultural products under Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) standards to establish financial accounting and internal systems.

Ms. Sieng Bun, founder and CEO of NAV, was inspired to start her agribusiness because she met a lot of farmers who face challenges in finding the market for their products and households who find difficulties in buying safe horticulture products.

“I started this business because I saw the opportunities, I didn’t care if I were a man or woman. The importance is I had clear objectives and I was confident that I could do it, then I mobilised like-minded people to join me,” said Sieng, “when I go on the field, I always make it clear that I will be safe and learn about the circumstances. Then I can feel more confident to travel a lot as a woman.”

Cambodia Office
Gender equality and social inclusion start with seeing, believing and practicing. In Cambodia office, there currently are two women for every three men (that’s 40%) among our staff member. They are empowered to play equal roles from daily programme task executions to significant decision making as members of senior management team.

Other gender-equal guidelines are being continuously embedded throughout the programme and communication plans as a reminder for everyone that there are still works to be done to ensure a more equal society. Leveraging gender equality is a joined effort by all women and men, not because women deserve more than men but because we are equal. #EachforEqual