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In ASEAN, Women Empowerment Low on Priority List

File photo by Karlos Manlupig/Rappler

MANILA, Mar 10 – Seng Reasey has worked to advance women’s rights in Cambodia through SILAKA since 2012.

She has repeatedly tried to contact her government’s representative to the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) to speak about how the government and civil society can work together to empower women – but to no avail.

“Even if we send a letter to them, we can’t send it directly to them, we have to send it to the Minister of Women’s Affairs. We wait for approval from the minister,” she told Rappler.

“Mostly when we get a response, it’s ‘Sorry we are not available, we have a full schedule.’ They always say they don’t have time.”

Cambodia is one of the Southeast Asian countries where the voices of civil societies are paid little mind by the government. Within the region, there is a distinct variety in the influence played by non-governmental organizations, largely due to the government’s openness to collaboration. In Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand for instance, civil societies enjoy greater access to government representatives, and are even able to shape national policies relating to women.

Read the second story in this two-part feature on women empowerment in Rappler:

The first story can be found here.

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