Women in rural Cambodia cultivate their way out of vulnerability
In five rural districts of Battambang and Siem Reap provinces in Cambodia, Banteay Srei, a local women-led NGO works with the poorest, most marginalized women – including those who are illiterate or single mothers, to help them improve their livelihoods.
Twenty-year-old Vern Chantha is one. The fifth in a poor family of seven children with unemployed elderly parents, she decided to participate in training on agricultural techniques to improve productivity on her 100-square-metre family farm. “Sometimes the plants didn’t grow well and we did not have any product to harvest even after our hard efforts,” she says.
“I am now seen [as a] person who knows about the rights of women and can lead the team.”
With new skills and continued coaching on the use of non-chemical fertilizers and natural pesticides, her yields have risen, providing enough to sell for income. “I am using the money to buy food and household supplies and to reinvest on my farmland,” explains a happy Chantha. She is also pursuing her second year of a bachelor’s degree in management.
In total, 25 female community members have been trained to become trainers in agricultural techniques to raise pigs and chicken, and grow vegetables. Of the 100 poor rural women who gained skills through their guidance, almost a third have increased their incomes by 50 per cent.
The programme, which began in May 2016 is funded by UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality; the Fund provides technical and financial support to innovative initiatives from women-led civil society organizations that demonstrate concrete results on the ground, especially for women in situations of marginalization. One of its goals is also to strengthen women’s knowledge of their rights and leadership skills. Khern Sreysor, 31, took part in training on leadership and public speaking. Already serving as a community facilitator in Banteay Srei’s activities, she gained enough confidence to secure an appointment as the Ro Hal Deputy Village Chief. She is active on women’s issues, including property rights and improved support in cases of domestic and gender-based violence.
“I am now seen [as a] person who knows about the rights of women and can lead the team,” she says. “Now I want to be a candidate for the upcoming commune council elections and if I win, I may be able to help the community people more.”
The Fund for Gender Equality is UN Women’s global grantmaking mechanism dedicated to the economic and political empowerment of women worldwide. Guided by UN Women’s mandate, the Fund provides technical and financial support to innovative initiatives from women-led civil society organizations that demonstrate concrete results on the ground, especially for women in situations of marginalization. Since its launch in 2009, the Fund has delivered grants of USD 64 million to 120 grantee programmes in 80 countries, touching the lives of more than 10 million direct beneficiaries
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