Female opposition councilors have set their sights on running local communes after elections scheduled for next year.
Sin Chanpao Razath, the deputy commune chief in O’Char commune, Battambang province, is one of several up-and-coming councilors in the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s arsenal.
“It’s very important to have women as leaders, not only in the communes, but also national leaders, it’s important for the whole society,” she said. “Firstly, women understand other women’s struggles and secondly they understand men’s as well. If women become leaders corruption in the communes and society at large will be reduced drastically.”
Razath was one of several local officials who met this week with CNRP deputy leader Kem Sokha at the party’s headquarters in Phnom Penh.
She said that if she won the election she would work hard to improve the lives of her constituents. As deputy commune chief, she added, she had often met with local residents to help them solve problems.
Chan Samnang, deputy chief of Russei Keo commune in Phnom Penh, also hopes to be elected to the top job.
“In every commune, especially in my commune, there is an awful lot of work to be done, from developing infrastructure to improving people’s healthcare, to public service issues,” she said.
Kun Lum Ang, head of the CNRP’s Women Movement, urged more women to come forward to stand in the elections.
“We are organizing women at the local, commune, district, provincial and national levels, and we are also running training courses,” she said. “In the training course we educate them and strengthen their capabilities to prepare them to run for election.”
Yoeung Sotheara, a legal observer from elections watchdog Comfrel, said there were only a very small number of women represented at the top level in local government – just 108 last year out of more than 1,600 communes.
“In politics, women are better at using knowledge than men, and intelligent because they work systematically and clearly, and they use soft techniques to negotiate and implement their policy…they solve problems better than men,” Sotheara said.