07.03.2012 - UNESCO Phnom Penh

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2012: Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty

@ Vy Nop - Interviewing Local Indigenous Woman, Ratanakiri Province

The UNESCO theme for International Women’s Day 2012 is Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty. Women living in rural settings often face higher obstacles in improving their living circumstances, receiving an education or exercising their human rights. Young girls from poor rural households, for example, face difficulty in gaining access to education. Recent studies have found that two thirds of the world’s illiterate people are women, many of whom live in rural areas. In Cambodia, 48 percent of rural women are illiterate compared to 14 percent of rural men.

Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General, emphasized that “women play a key role in supporting their households and communities to achieve food security, to generate income, and to improve their livelihoods. Rural women are key actors in agriculture and rural enterprises…They are also custodians of the indigenous and traditional knowledge that is vital for developing more sustainably...” Women act as powerful catalysts for change through their local knowledge and the integral roles that they play within households and societies. This March 8th, UNESCO will celebrate the International Women’s Day to highlight the important roles that women play in local communities and to engender a sense of urgency in empowering women for sustainable social development.

UNESCO Office in Phnom Penh, in cooperation with other UN agencies, hopes to shed light on stories of inspiring girls and women all over Cambodia. UNESCO is cooperating with the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) to showcase stories from a publication supported by UNESCO, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS), and GCE called “Girls and Women Struggling for Success.” In order to promote the two-month campaign, UNESCO is collaborating with the Cambodia Center for Independent Media (CCIM) and the UNESCO Indigenous Language Radio Programme in the province of Rattanakiri to produce Public Service Announcements and to produce inspiring stories about indigenous women.

UNESCO’s indigenous language radio programme is operated by young indigenous radio producers—half of whom are young women aiming to infuse the programmes with the voices of local women and to tackle topics such as gender, education, health, agriculture and culture. The UNESCO radio programme is produced in cooperation with the Ministry of Information in four different ethnic languages—Tampuan, Jirai, Kreung and Brao—in its northern highland province of Ratanakiri, and runs for three hours daily.   In light of International Women’s Day, the community radio producers are focusing on stories about girls and women in their respective communities who work tirelessly under extraordinary circumstances to support their families and to improve their living circumstances.

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