NGOs Say Women Could Help End the Political Impasse

More women should be part of any future high-level negotiations between the ruling CPP and opposition CNRP to resolve the current political deadlock, a coalition of women’s rights NGOs said Tuesday in a statement.

In a joint statement by more than 20 organizations, the groups criticized the absence of female political players during the failed September 16 and 17 negotiations between the two parties.

“To exclude women in the negotiating team critically affects the implementation of democracy, which requires the involvement of women and gender-based promotion that the two parties have previously declared they supported,” the groups said in the statement.

“We are calling for both political parties to include women in any future high-level negotiations and all key political party meetings to ensure that the demands of both men and women will have a response.”

Thida Khus, president of women rights NGO Silaka—which en­dorsed the statement—said both parties have ignored the group’s previous request that female politicians be part of the meetings.

“It is important to have women because women are more astute to other people’s feelings and the ne­gotiations will bring more understanding and they will be able to negotiate for a better solution for all,” Ms. Khus said. “It’s also to represent the women’s voices.”

Disputing the results of the July 28 national election, the CNRP has held mass demonstrations calling for an independent investigation of the poll results.

A meeting between the two parties, led by Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy, in September failed and shortly after, the National Assembly convened with only CPP lawmakers in attendance.

CNRP lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua defended her absence from September’s negotiations and said she has been very much involved in the talks even though she was not seated at the table in September.

“There are three women in the permanent committee, like my­self. I am active and very much a part of the permanent committee and in the negotiation process,” she said, adding that while there should be more female lawmakers, it is also difficult to persuade women to run as candidates.

“Women are very active in civil society and in politics but they don’t want to join as candidates,” Ms. Sochua said. “We are in a position where there are a lot of sacrifices that you have to make, because of time and money. It’s a full time commitment.”

Senior CPP lawmaker and de facto spokesman Cheam Yeap took issue with the NGOs’ characterization of the current political situation.

“No political deadlock exists after the July national elections,” he said. “Any meeting in the near future can be held only if the elected parliamentarians from the CNRP take their oaths at the Royal Palace first.”

“The CPP has already approved a policy to have women hold 30 percent of senior positions at various ministries,” Mr. Yeap said, adding that out of the 68 seated lawmakers, 18 are women.

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