Celebrating 3 women who are leading the way in rural Cambodia

This #IWD we celebrate 3 women who inspire us, 3 women who are leading the way in rural Cambodia.

Meet Koem Toch. In the rainy season she works as a farmer, and in the dry season she works as a cook. She has three adult children, and a husband who stays at home to look after the house and animals. In her community, Koem Toch helps navigate complicated relationship issues between families and individuals, including Domestic Violence.

Koem Toch

"Being a woman means making money to support the children’s education, making money to support the family. My husband does not earn any money so I work hard to support my family year round. I am the leader in my family.I help my community to solve their problems. I am the person who will take a pregnant woman to the health centre or provincial hospital when she is having her baby. I teach them not to be afraid to ask for help from medical staff. Sometimes when I am away for work in a different village, the villagers now know they can go on their own. Before they were ignorant but now they can speak for themselves. I have taught them to be brave and they are better than they were.I want them not to work in the farms or other physical labour. I want them to work using their writing and their minds, to make good money. I want them to study and get the benefit of education to help society. With high education one person can provide for three people, but on the land three people cannot make enough for themselves to live a good life. With education life is easier. When you want to get a job, it is easier. Don’t steal, don’t cheat, don’t be greedy. Act honestly."Meet Nim Mao. She begins work everyday at 3am to make Khmer noodles to sell to retailers. She has raised six children. She was widowed years ago, when her last child was only three days old. She’s had a hard life as a single mum yet still adopted a baby girl when she saw a girl in need, and fostered children whose parents died, until they could be placed with family members. She is a key member of her community who points us in the right direction of other girls she thinks we should assess for enrolment onto our program, and then she looks out for them and encourages them.

Nim Mao

"I raise my children alone. I have to make money to send my children to school and have enough food to eat. Everything depends on me. When I am sick and cannot work, I cannot make money and so my children can not have money to go to school. To be a woman is to have struggle, to have to try hard all of the day and all of the night. It is very difficult. I always made my children go to school even when I was poor and had to borrow money to support them. The neighbours said I am a good woman. Sometimes it rains, there’s no food, it’s very difficult. One day my youngest child fainted at school and her teacher had to send her home, because she was so hungry and had no rice in her tummy.I want them to study hard. If you leave school before finishing and only work in the village, you cannot make enough money to live a good life. I know this, and so I never let my children stop studying so they can work to help me with money even though I am so poor. I feel sad for my life.I want the children to get a better education, get good jobs, and have lives that are not as difficult as my generation had. I want my children to get a high education. I don’t want them to be poor and have a hard life like me. I want them to do what they want to do in life, and have choices. For example, they want to go to school, and they go by themselves without me pushing them to go. When I see this, I am so happy."Meet Choung Hach. She is a Village Leader, the first female village leader we've ever come across. It is a rare position for a woman. Her husband died more than 20 years ago and her eight children have all grown up and married.

Choung Hach

"Before, the woman did not have the same rights as the man. All the jobs for a man never had a woman, for example Village Leader, Committee members, Commune Chief and consultants. But now, they want to lift the woman’s rights up equal to the man. The man can do the job, and the woman can now also do the same job.All of my eight children respect me as a mother, and they respect me as a Village Leader as well. And my grandchildren the same.I don’t want to have only men leaders. We are women, we can get a good education for the next generation and they can lead. I don’t want to lose what we have gained, and never go back to before. Now our society has developed so it is not like before. I want the next generation of girls, and their children and grandchildren, to study, be educated, be leaders, have a job, and don’t expect all from the man.Now I am old, I want women to be leaders among the people in the village, not only the men who lead. I want women to lead in the Commune, Province, District, and the whole Country! Must have a woman! A brave woman to lead! The same as me, too."These 3 women inspire us. We are honoured to know them and work with them.To #PledgeForParity this IWD assist a girl in achieving her human right to access education.To provide her with books, pens, shoes, uniforms or a bike click here: sponsor a girl through until she completes grade 12 click here: vision is that they will utilise these opportunities to grow into empowered female leaders who shape their communities and country. #ItStartsWithYou