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Assembly Discusses Ethnicity, Gender

International members of the Inter-Parliamentarian Union met with lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties on Wednesday to seek ways to better incorporate the needs of ethnic minorities and women into the National Assembly.

The legislative body is underrepresented by members of minorities, leading to lower education and less development, Zakarya Adam, a Muslim representative from Kandal province, told members of the union.

A low number of women representatives also make it hard for the National Assembly to address issues like domestic violence, women’s health, poverty and trafficking, Mu Sochua, Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker for Kampot province, said.

“Cambodian women parliamentarians from the ruling and opposition parties should abandon their own party policies to unite together to fight against the challenges for women,” she said.

Mu Sochua, who was once a minister of Women’s Affairs, recommended forming a joint commission to solve the gender problem.

Cambodian women lawmakers “don’t deeply understand and aren’t able to analyze the gender situation in many fields,” said Ros Sopheap, head of the Gender and Development Organization, following Wednesday’s meetings. “But they have capabilities in law.”

She urged women parliamentarians to join together to work for more solutions.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union delegation was led by Sonia Palmient, who met with Ho Naun, head of the National Assembly committee for women’s affairs, Chheang Uun, head of the body’s committee for foreign affairs, Khuon Sudary, the head of the human rights committee, Cheam Yiep, head of the finance committee, and Mu Sochua.