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Laws and National Policies Responding to Women’s Empowerment and Rights

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To date, Cambodia has developed and adopted several laws and policies that protect the rights, freedoms, and welfare of Cambodian women and men.

The Constitution of Cambodia, adopted in 1993 clearly states that "men and women have equal rights before the law and enjoy equal participation in political, economic, social and cultural life; equality in marriage and family; employment and equal pay for the same work. It also includes measures to prevent and eliminate of all forms of discrimination and exploitation of women".

The Rectangular Strategy for Growth, Employment, Equity and Efficiency, Phase II,  recognizes that "women are the backbone of the economy and society". The government continues to implement policies and make provisions for increasing the enrollment of girls in formal education through increased scholarships, dormitories, ensuring safety for girls and increase the number of women teachers; promote women in decision-making and provide training and skills for women at all levels; increasing women's participation in civil service and public administration; capacity development of women to stand as candidates for commune council elections, increase job opportunities for women and protect their rights; continue to support entrepreneurship development and provide micro- and small credit for women; and continue to implement the law on prevention of domestic violence and protection of victims through provision of timely and effective protection and services to victims by cooperating with relevant institutions and development partners.

The National Strategic Development Plan and the Cambodia Millennium Development Goals highlight the government's commitment to reduce gender disparities in all development sectors and the need to put in place effective measures to remove barriers that women face, and increase opportunities for women to fully participate and benefit from development. In addition, the third goal of the CMDG focuses on promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women through reducing gender gaps in education at all levels, increasing women's participation in government and ensuring equal wages between men and women.

Cambodia has signed and ratified the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on September 22, 1992. This Convention includes recommendations to reduce exploitation and discrimination against women and to increase measures to promote women's status and rights. CEDAW provides a basis for equality between men and women by ensuring equal opportunity in public and political life including participation in election, standing for election, access to education, health and employment. Moreover, the Convention stipulates that each member state must create appropriate measures, including laws and affirmative action, to ensure the rights and freedom of women.