Cambodia Needs More Support to Achieve Gender Equality Goals

To achieve its Gender Equality Goals, Cambodia needs more support especially financial resources and personnel training.

The issue was raised at an event to disseminate the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Support for Gender and Development in Cambodia held here this morning.

Financial resources and personnel trained in gender issues are critical to tap the economic potential of women and close sizable gender equality gaps, says an evaluation of the ADB's (ADB) support for gender and development in the country by the ADB Independent Evaluation Department.

ADB and other development partners need to be more engaged with the government in policy dialogue on gender equality, which, despite progress, remains among Cambodia's most pressing development challenges, says Ms. Veronique Salze-Lozac'h, Deputy Director General of Independent Evaluation.

Support to capacity development at all levels of government to promote gender equality would help the country advance its objective of inclusive growth, he added.

The evaluation notes that the government's commitment to gender equality appears strong, and official policy stresses inclusive growth with a gender equality component.

Cambodia has an extensive administrative structure to pursue its gender equality goals, which includes a separate Ministry for Women's Affairs and a high-level council for women, chaired by the Prime Minister, But the capacity to operate this impressive structure is limited, says the evaluation.

The evaluation reviews ADB's support for promoting gender equality in its Cambodia operations during 2005-2015. ADB's loan and grant portfolio for the country totaled US$1.4 billion in the period. Its operations focused on urban water supply and sanitation, education, and agriculture and natural resources, which included irrigation projects. The evaluation also assesses the state of gender equality in Cambodia, and highlights the constraints to increasing the economic empowerment of women and closing other important gender gaps.

Cambodia's enjoyed fast economic growth of about 6 percent a year from 2005 to 2015, and employment has been rising rapidly by the standards of Asia and the Pacific, which has brought substantial gains in some areas for women, says Ms. Hyun Son, the evaluation report's main author.

These include a marked growth in female employment in Cambodia's garments industry from increased foreign and domestic investment in the sector. In health, maternal mortality per 100,000 live births more than halved from 315 in 2005 to 161 in 2015, although this remains high. In education, the completion rate in secondary schools is higher for girls, at 48.8 percent compared with 47.2 percent for boys.

Significant gender gaps remain in tertiary education, especially in technical and vocational training; and the political representation of women has improved only modestly, she added.

Cambodia has the highest labour force participation rate for women in the region, at 80 percent. But women are disproportionally represented in low-wage activities, with 75 percent of working women in agriculture. Wage gaps, too, can be large � women machine operators, for example, earn about 42 percent less than men, according to the International Labour Organisation.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press