Putting women in the driver's seat in Cambodia

Thida Khus, chair of the Cambodian Committee to Promote Women in Politics and executive director of local NGO SILAKA. Photo by: Ryan Brown / U.N. Women / CC BY-NC-ND

How can one push for greater political participation of women in a patriarchal state that believes government is a fraternity?

The Cambodian Committee to Promote Women in Politics faced this exact problem when it first started its work to encourage women to get more politically involved in the early 2000s. Back then, CPWP struggled to convince women to become more “involved in decision-making at the national and local levels” not only because of opposition from men, but also because some of these women didn’t see that as their role in politics.

“The men in the political parties used scare tactics to convince us that politics was not for women. They said a woman’s place was in the home, and women didn’t understand how politics worked,” CPWP chair Thida Khus told Devex in Phnom Penh. “There were also some women who thought their role was to do the backroom work to support the men in political parties.”

As well as chairing CPWP, Khus is executive director of SILAKA, a local nongovernmental organization that offers training to strengthen NGOs and individuals to build up national structures and promote peace in Cambodia.

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  • Daphne davies profile

    Daphne Davies

    Daphne Davies is a London-based freelance journalist and consultant with more than 30 years' experience in international development. She has worked with the U.N., the European Union, national governments and global civil society organizations, including Amnesty, WWF and LDC Watch. Her expertise is in monitoring government policies in relation to international cooperation. Her interests are in sustainability, social and economic matters, women and least developed countries.