Bringing Women into Cambodian Politics

Thank you for your very inspiring International Women's Day message from Nepal. What a gathering. Your message reminds me of the days when I was part of the grassroots women for change and the beginning of the women's movement in Cambodia.

We celebrated here with many speeches and many promises made for women.

As we are in the middle of our election campaign, my party president and I met with hundreds of women workers and we celebrated the gains made for our workers, but we do realize how much farther we have to walk in this struggle and fight to protect women workers in Cambodia.

I am very proud to share with you all that my party came as number one for fielding the most women for the upcoming commune elections. We placed our female candidates on the first positions of the party lists -- which guarantees them a sure win.

We raised over US$20,000 dollars which enable us to provide women extra money to run their own campaigns. We all know that female candidates are often left behind because there is that problem with money.

Our candidates have been involved in debates throughout the country, organized by the National Democratic Party and funded by the USAID. It is all about rural issues and the debates are so passionate. Our party sent one of the youngest speakers, age 24, and she was the best. She spoke from the heart and her age is actually an advantage to her. I coached her the night before and gave her a few tips on how to handle anxiety. I told her that I am also scared when speaking in front of so many people who might ask you questions that you have no answers to.

Then it came to my turn to debate with top women from other parties. I think I came as the winner as I also spoke from the heart, addressing the issues and paying tribute to women, rather than using my party line to make promises to women voters.

My party came out first also because we made history by having a woman as Secretary-General. I serve this position, being aware that my first priority is to bring women up in politics and to change politics for women.

Happy (belated) Women's Day to all!

Mu Sochua is on the board of the Global Fund for women. She is the chairperson of the Peace & Development Institute and the former minister of women's and veterans' affairs of Cambodia, She is the founder and former director of Khemara, the first local organization for women in Cambodia. She is the recipient of the 2005 Vital Voices Annual Leadership Award.

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