Caritas Cambodia as member of the CI net work is committed to empower women so that they become active agents of social change and long term development. Women are the future of our society in the sense that they are entrusted with the task of bringing up the children, looking after the well being of the family, contribute to the development of their community. They are also the forgotten lot although they should have a sacred place in the society.
70% of the poorest categories are women and they live in dire poverty conditions. They are subject to multiple discriminations: economic, political, social and cultural. In this regard they are the poorest and the worst affected. At the same time, if they are given a space, then they become actors of their own development and that of their community. In view of this, they have become a priority for the mission of Caritas.
A gender Policy, the raison d’être
Women are still a marginalized group and often left out. Due to lack of natural tendency to integrate women in the development process, Caritas Cambodia strives to elaborate a specific policy for integrating women in the development process, because maintenance of the dignity of women is the basis that defines the work of Caritas. Focusing on Gender inevitably brings Caritas to empower women. In this regard the policy envisions “To empower women, especially the marginalized, to participate in the development process that affects them directly or indirectly.” This empowerment will strive to improve their socio-economic status of women which will in turn contribute as a key factor that reinforces women’s participation in politics and decision making, at the local level as well as the provincial level.
Mainstreaming gender issues within the different development programs and perspectives of Caritas Cambodia will contribute to motivate their involvement in decision making in their communities, and at the same time contribute to the development of their society. They still need space to grow in strength and confidence, in order to become participants in the global development of their society.
Women are agents of development
In the different experiences of development activities of Caritas Cambodia, it is clear that women are proud of what is being done in their favor and are willing to participate in the different activities with commitment and enthusiasm. They have a sacred space in which to work through the issues which affect them. This means they be given the chance to develop their inner capacities which are otherwise totally shadowed by a men dominated society, which does not want to give them a prime place.
In the present political scenario in Cambodia, where the government is ready to give them a political role, women need to be motivated and sensitized to take active part in the political life. They can be elected at the village level or at the community level. They can become political leaders and take up the voice of their fellow-women, and address issues which otherwise would not be addressed. They have a message, to share with other women, within their communities and also outside their communities.
The mainstreaming of gender in all advocacy themes will ensure a wider participation of women on issues related to their day to day life, and will contribute to the economic growth of their communities.
In terms of emergencies, women have a key role to play. Looking at the emergency activities from the gender perspective, the emergency activities must also have a gender dimension in order to give them the legitimate space wherein they can play a decisive role.
Women are potential actors on key issues such as debt relief, trafficking and inter-religious dialogue. These different issues, wherein we deal with culture of violence, we must also view them from the women’s point of view because the above issues do not only afflict women, but making their lives miserable.
Empowering the women through education will help them rise against discriminating laws in the areas of marriage, employment, access to land and ownership of land, and other forms of injustice which otherwise affect one part of the society. Being effective in bringing justice to women is a means to fight against injustice in our societies.
Equipping women with leadership skills through leadership training, capacity buildings are means to give them the opportunities to be effective in building a better future for themselves and their communities. In this way they participate in an affective way to improve their personal socio-economical conditions and thus improve their status. In this perspective, Caritas Cambodia targets the mainstreaming of gender issues in the different programs, so that women become part of the decision making process.
Gender and the strategic planning of Caritas Cambodia
Caritas Cambodia in its new strategic planning is committed to give a prime importance to the gender issue. In the changing political scenario, where there are village committees which are elected, women have a key political role to play; they can motivate and strive towards social and cultural changes within the society. As member of Caritas Internationals, Caritas Cambodia is also committed to the gender issues. As decided by the confederation, Caritas Cambodia aims at preparing women to play a more and more participative role in the decision making process within their communities and also in the society at large. The Community based activities will give prime importance to the role of women in the decision making process at their village level and also at the provincial level.