Know more about MDGs (Please refer to Vol.139 "What is MDGs?")
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Women's Independence Center, Cambodia
By Ms. Mari HAMADA (Matsaubara Church, Tokyo Archdiocese)
- For the achievement of MDGs -
In the women's independence center we protect the victims of sex trade, DV and sexual abuse and support their restart of life.
Beside the shelter for them to stay temporally, vocational training of dressmaking is provided. Their cases vary. One of them came here and gave birth by herself. Her lover ran away when she told him about her having got pregnant. Others came here due to sexual abuse by uncle, violence by the owner of the house where the woman was working as a maid, DV by husband and so on. Most of them are with small children. We protect them and provide them healthcare, heath education, vocational training and literacy education for the limited duration so that they can become independent.
- Severe situation -
Under the goal "Promote gender equality and empower women" there is a target "Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015". In Cambodia, as a matter of fact, I do not feel the gender disparity in the education. But I really hope that the women's rights will be protected and I am working to help the situation.
The residents leave our shelter at maturity of their stay for six months. So far a few mothers with children have left since I started to work here. Most of them, however, went back to there hometown where their relatives and acquaintances lived or returned to their own house where they might get in danger because they did not have ideas of new places to live.
In some cases women with children give up even to find jobs. There is no childcare center and they need money to send their children to kindergartens and have to find such job that the working hours meet the operation hours of kindergartens. Some of them even consider sending their children to the orphanage. This may be common to other countries. In addition the low standard of their literacy makes their lives difficult. Those without literacy have to take nighttime jobs or work at extremely low salary. Cambodia society is cold and tough for them and though they know that they have to earn money, many of them cannot help but go back to the similar lives to what they used to live before staying in the shelter. Therefore we conduct dressmaking course in the center and work for their independence.
The other day a woman who had to leave the center soon started to look for a job. We went to a few places and asked for jobs such as massage, hotel cleaner and cook but they said, "We don't take a woman with children," "There is a job of drinking alcohol with customers," "It is difficult unless with literacy" and so on. Fortunately she could get a job of dressmaking through the introduction of her acquaintance. But she had no choice but to pay money to the acquaintance for the childcare. After deducting 30 Dollars of room rent and 20 Dollars childcare from her salary of 50 Dollars there is no balance with her. Despite of it she has to live in the way.
There is a social prejudice in Cambodia and single-parent family is often considered a shame. Many of them have pride and live with attention to others. They have disadvantages due to complex causes.
I want to encourage the women who live strongly, support them mentally and live together with them. I hope the society to become such that women can work if they wish, family of any style is accepted and children can to go school naturally. I will do my best in the shelter.
[Ms. Mari Hamada was sent to Cambodia in January, 2009 and has completed the term of two years on 24th July. Thank you for having supported her.]
We will present "Goal 4: Reduce child mortality" in the next issue. The articles will be on Cambodia and East Timor.