Reclaiming ICTs to end violence against women in Cambodia
By Kong Sidaroth for Open Institute
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, 09 January 2009
A seminar on the “Result of women forums on reclaiming ICTs to end violence against women” was organised in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on December 26 2008 by the Open Institute in collaboration with six organisations/institutions, including the Secretariat of Senate, UNIFEM-Cambodia, People Health Development Association, Project Against Domestic Violence, Cambodian Defenders project, Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW and ECPAT-Cambodia. The purpose of this seminar was to provide findings and recommendations to the relevant ministries, organisations and to the general public, in order to build awareness and raise support for regulations and policies to end violence against women.
The seminar was presided by Her Excellency Sy Define, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. Key speakers in the seminar included gender and rights experts in Cambodia. The seminar also gathered around 120 representatives from relevant ministries/institutions and NGOs working in the field of women’s rights, gender, research and local and international media agencies.
The Women forums on reclaiming ICTs to end violence against women found that culture, tradition, poor education and poverty are the main causes of violence against women in the country. Violence against women is prevalent in Cambodia, but is not widely reported. Through discussions, it was concluded that it is important to raise awareness on women’s rights in order to help people understand that violence against women is unacceptable. Raising awareness is vital to the eradication of violence against women and information and communication technologies (ICTs) play an essential role in nation-wide dissemination of information on gender issues and women’s rights, especially regarding violence against women. Raising awareness on these issues will help the country move closer to achieving the Cambodian Millennium Development Goals (CMDGs) (target 3.17) “Increasing the population percentage aware that violence against women is wrongful behavior and a criminal act to 100 by 2015.”
In her opening remarks at the seminar, Executive director of the Open Institute Ms. Chim Manavy, supported that “violence against women is a wrongful behavior and a criminal act.” She continued by explaining that “silence regarding violence is also wrong, thus it is important to speak out through all means of communications possible. Information and communication technologies are a safe and effective tool for denouncing violence that can be used anonymously.”
Sharing her point of view, Her Excellency Sy Define, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, said that ICTs play a very important role in ending violence against women in the country. Disseminating information through ICTs is one among several key actions that can help raise awareness around the issues at hand and catch the attention of national and international watch dogs. These efforts will contribute to further initiatives to end violence against women, increase women’s rights and promote gender equality in Cambodia.
This seminar is one of the Open Institute’s women’s program activities to join the global campaign on Say NO to Violence Against Women. For more information, please visit our website (in Cambodian only).
The Women’s Program is financially supported by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and the Open Society Institute.