Cambodian women should be encouraged to participate in political, social and economic affairs as well as the upcoming commune council elections, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thursday.
"We must focus our attention on a strategy to increase the maximum number of women who participate in national institutions, in decision-making, from mid-level all the way to base level," Hun Sen said at a meeting of officials convened to celebrate International Women's Day.
Government officials and others were given the day off to celebrate the international holiday, which began with a women's convention in Denmark in 1910 and has come to be recognized around the world.
The day should serve as a reminder to the leaders of the government, political parties, businesses and in the general public to support women, Women's Affair's Minister Ung Kuntha Phavy said.
The inclusion of more women in decision-making would help develop the country and put women equal to men, she said.
Women should be "proud" to have as many candidates running for this commune election, she said.
This year 20 percent of candidates are women, compared to 16 percent last year, she said, while her ministry was working to promote more leadership in health education and to reduce domestic violence.
Not everyone shared the politicians' rosy outlook for women.
Som Srey Mum, vice president of the Free Workers Union of Cambodia, said discrimination in factories was still a problem, alongside poverty, low salaries and illnesses from poor working conditions.
A "beer girl" for Tiger, Chan Phalla, said women in her profession still are constantly harassed and never treated according to labor laws.