Launch of UNDP's Gender Wage Gap Report in Cambodia
11 March 2021
Remarks by Pauline Tamesis, the UN Resident Coordinator
(Check against delivery)
H.E. Chea Serey, Assistant Governor and Director General of Central Banking, National Bank of Cambodia
H.E. The Chhun Hak, Director General, General Directorate of Gender Equality and Economic Development, Ministry of Women’s Affairs
Dr. Eng Netra, Acting Executive Director, Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI).
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Gender equality champions,
I am excited to be here with you today for the launch of the gender wage gap report, for the many reasons that Nick already outlined in his welcome remarks.
We celebrated International Women’s Day a few days ago – a day to celebrate women’s achievements, promote women’s rights and human rights for all. In fact, we need to celebrate IWD’s every day.
As the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) places gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls at the heart of its implementation, with a dedicated Goal 5 and with its promise to “leave no one behind”, making sure that everyone can enjoy the same human rights.
More than a technical exercise, gender equality is a political exercise. It is a complex effort that requires immediate actions with a long term and systems perspective to shape attitudes, change behaviours, policy decisions and budget allocations that facilitate equitable distribution of resources and equal rights among men and women, girls and boys.
Gender equality makes development stronger and more sustainable. It is not only a pressing moral and social issue but also a critical economic challenge.
As Nick and the video already highlighted, over the past decade, Cambodia has enjoyed robust economic growth as well as notable improvements in socio-economic development. This includes a decline in the poverty rate and improvement in the education and health sectors.
Progress on women’s labour participation rate is also very significant. According to the Cambodia Socio-Economic Survey (CSES), 2019-20, the female labour force participation rate in Cambodia was 84 per cent in 2019, higher than its neighbouring countries.
Despite that, the gender wage gap between men and women remains an ongoing problem, blocking women’s economic advancement. A recent report “ASEAN Gender Outlook” shows that in Cambodia:
WOMEN occupied only 20% of parliament seats
The proportion of WOMEN in middle and senior managerial positions in the private sector is 17%.
48% of WOMEN WITH CHILDREN earn less than their partners.
20% of WOMEN reported more time allocation in unpaid domestic work since the spread of COVID-19 comparing to 10% of MEN.
UNDP’s gender wage gap report offers us insightful evidence about what hinders women’s economic advancement and gender inequality in Cambodia.
It is clear that distorted labour markets fail to deliver full potential benefits. Now more than ever as we recover from a pandemic induced recession, we need to remove barriers to labour market participation.
However, the gender wage gap is part of a larger picture of promoting gender equality in all spheres.
The United Nations in Cambodia has been advocating for a gender-responsive economic COVID-19 recovery plan. A gender-responsive recovery is the only way to build forward better to a more equal and sustainable society.
Cambodia’s investments in women’s economic empowerment remain significantly low (based on Neary Rattanak IV). Cambodia’s national budget does not reflect a holistic and integrated approach to tackle gender inequality. A more effective mechanism for Women’s Economic Empowerment mainstreaming at the relevant line-ministries and into the national policies, strategies or frameworks is needed.
How can we together promote gender equality and women’s empowerment? What are some of the questions we may need to address?
How can investments in improving the social protection system target better protections for women and drive gender-responsive recovery from COVID? Better social protection systems would help promote women’s participation in the labour markets and assist them in seeking better employment. It is also important to have social security policies that address domestic and unpaid care work, which is mostly done by women, in order to ensure adequate protection of the “missing middle”. Measuring unpaid domestic and care work is an important step in the efforts to recognize the value of women’s contributions to the economy and society?
With declining revenues, how can investments in education and health for women and girls be sustained as part of the economic recovery from the pandemic? Government expenditures in the education and health sectors are still low compared to other countries. Studies show that girls education is the single most important driver in boosting progress in human development.
What policy measures are necessary to change social norms and behaviours to address gender-based violence issues?
I encourage you all today to discuss the priority policy interventions aimed at reducing the gender pay gap and the broader vision of fulfilling the human rights of every women and girl in Cambodia.
Let’s work together to achieve the Cambodia SDG 5 on gender equality.