Friday, March 2, 2012

Advances in gender equality reported in Cambodia, Morocco

Greater equality for rural women seen as positive trend
There is a growing global awareness that women, particularly women in poor, rural areas provide the food and sustenance for many of their local communities around the world. The issue has been a topic of concern at the United Nations, who are eager to develop outreach programs to help these women improve their quality of life, and in doing so, the quality of life for the people around them.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - There has been remarkable success in the southeast nation of Cambodia. According to Dr. Ing Phavi, minister of women's affairs, a series of measures taken by the Cambodian government have been proved successful in enhancing gender equality across different areas.

"In Cambodia, in the context of a public administration reform, the prime minister has launched a major drive in 2008 to address the gender imbalance in the public administration," she said.

Due to extensive promotion across ministries and affirmative action policies, the number of female civil servants has increased by 34 percent. At the sub-national level, more women have been appointed as deputy governors or heads of government departments.

"In education, gender disparity has been eliminated in the primary and lower secondary education," she noted. "Remarkably, with the focus on training and deploying female teachers, the female ratio at the primary level reached 46 percent in 2009/2010."

There is much room for improvement, however, as fewer Cambodian girls than boys continue on to higher education.

"The most important thing to understand is that gender equality is a government policy and it has to mainstream the poverty reduction strategy," Phavi says.

"Poverty reduction means taking care of growth, trade, agriculture development, well-being in terms of health, education and so on," she said. "Gender is already inside all sectors so it should be part of the poverty reduction strategy."

In Morocco, there is a greater transition to equal liberties for both men and women. Mohammed Chafiki, director of studies and financial forecasts for the ministry of economy and finance in Morocco, notes that in April of last year. Morocco ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, a key instrument often described as an international bill of rights for women.

Morocco has also adopted a new constitution last July that included many articles which expressly enshrined gender equality. For example, Article 19 affirms that men and women have equal civil, political, economic, cultural and environmental rights and liberties.

"In Morocco, we now need to continue the institutional reform. We are reforming our financial laws so it integrates gender considerations irreversibly," Chafiki says.

"But in order to move forward with gender equality, it is not all about the government. Local communities will also have to take concrete actions," he said.

"To finance gender equality and women empowerment, we also need partnerships. We need partnerships with the private sector, with NGOs, with governments, of course, and we need international cooperation."