Institute for Peace and Justice
Contact: Kara Wong
Phone: (619) 260-7567
Fax: (619) 260-7570
Location: KIPJ Room 120
Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110
Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice
Our Work in the Field: Women's Leadership and Political Participation
Since March 2012, the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice – in partnership with Khmer Ahimsa, a local Cambodian organization headed by 2005 Woman PeaceMaker Thavory Huot – has been addressing challenges for women’s participation in the political sphere.
Khmer Ahimsa and the institute have brought together women from the main political parties who work in different public and private capacities across the country. These cross-party trainings in communication and negotiation skills have been the impetus for breaking down barriers, creating alliances and identifying common interests and goals. Moreover, the trainings have provided a platform to enhance and strengthen the skills and confidence of women involved in politics, and build an understanding of the integral role women have in governance and peacebuilding.
To date, over 100 women have participated in institute-led trainings. The institute is recognized by UN Women and other international organizations as uniquely positioned to continue this work, thanks to its convening power and ability to draw on the expertise of its own Women PeaceMakers Asia Regional Network.
Cambodia is a post-conflict society emerging from decades of civil war and genocide. The legacy of violence, a lack of trust and the destruction of the social fabric that resulted from these traumas are present in the current power structures, poorly functioning judicial and legislative institutions, corruption and inequitable economic, social and political development.
Since the country’s first national elections in 1993, women in Cambodia have made significant strides toward increasing their political participation. While greater representation has brought about much-needed awareness of women’s issues in the country, serious obstacles remain.
Longstanding and deep-seated gender stereotypes, limited educational opportunities and increasing demands to manage agricultural production alongside household, child and elder care responsibilities hinder political participation and efforts to sustain participation.
Women are often marginalized within their own parties and left out of decision-making at local and national levels. This affects their ability to influence development processes and policy-level decision making. Despite these challenges, women are taking leadership roles in order to foster good governance and peacebuilding, primarily through civil society. They are monitoring human rights, challenging corruption, empowering local communities and working toward strengthening legislation.
The IPJ’s invitation to work in Cambodia came about during its 2011 Women PeaceMakers Regional Network meeting, which brought together peacemaker alumna from across Asia. The delegation was hosted by Cambodian Woman PeaceMaker Thavory Huot, and included Mary Ann Arnado and Bae Liza Llesis Saway of the Philppines, Zarina Salamat of Pakistan, Manjula Pradeep of India, and Shobha Shrestha, from the IPJ's Nepal partner organization Women, Peace and Democracy.
During the seven-day gathering, the delegation met with several groups active in local politics, women’s rights and peacebuilding, as well as Buddhist and Muslim women’s groups throughout the country. These interactions offered peacemakers the opportunity to understand the realities and situations facing communities in neighbouring countries, providing new ideas and frames with which to view their own contexts. They also offered communities the opportunity to learn from their own experiences and share best practices, struggles and successes. The Women PeaceMakers were also honored with a private meeting with Her Excellency Mu Sochua, Member of Parliament and human rights activist. Following these interactions the IPJ was invited to return to the country to support local efforts to promote and enhance women’s political and civic engagement.
For more information about the institute's work in Cambodia, please contact Daniel Orth, IPJ Program Officer for Strategic Peacebuilding, at email@example.com.