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October 7, 2014

Project to Give Cambodian Women Economic Independence Will Yield Policy Proposals in 2015
Empowering women to earn may be the key to solving poverty, domestic violence, education and health, an official says

photo

Donuts, pickled daikon radish and ginger syrup.

These are examples of processed food products made by the women of Kampong Cham Province, Cambodia, using ingredients easily obtainable in their villages.

The development of businesses including food processing and poultry raising is one pilot project of JICA's Project on Gender Mainstreaming (Phase 2), which aims to create income sources for village women and increase their economic independence. It has been implemented in 14 villages of Kampong Cham Province so far. The project's food processing activities ended in December 2013, but several women have continued initiatives to produce and sell the foods, so as a follow-up activity the project has cooperated with the province's bureau of commerce to carry out business training and other activities.

From 2003 to 2008, in Phase 1 of the project, JICA cooperated with efforts to improve organizational capacity centered on the Cambodian Ministry of Women's Affairs. Phase 2, in which individual experts are being dispatched, started in 2010 and will last through 2015. In the final year, which begins in November, favorable examples will be selected from among the pilot projects and policies related to the economic empowerment of women will be proposed.

Secretary of State Chan Sorey, age 64, who has been at Cambodia's Ministry of Women's Affairs for more than a decade, has walked around various locations in the country listening to what a wide variety of women had to say.

"Women face many problems including unequal access to education, mother-child health issues and inadequate political participation, but the most important problems they face are economic," she says.

"If a woman gains the opportunity to work and earn an income, her position within the household changes. Women's economic independence is the beginning of a solution to problems including poverty, domestic violence, education and health."

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