BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA
The People Health Development Association (PHD) and six partnership universities including The University of Cambodia; the Build Bright University; Putisastra University; Phnom Penh International University; Norton University; and the University for National Management have signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in order to cooperate and support the implementation of the “Man Engagement to Stop Violence Against Woman Project” in Cambodia.
The MOU was signed by the PHD’s President and six representatives of partner universities on June 25th in Phnom Penh.
Mr. Ou Ratanak, President of the People Health Development Association, said that the MOU is aimed to seek the close cooperation and supports from partner universities for implementation of the “Man Engagement to Stop Violence Against Woman Project” in Cambodia. He said the project will run for three years and will be implemented from 2010 to 2013.
“The PHD and partner CARE International under the financial support from UN-TRUST FUND are very happy to sign an MOU with six partner universities in Cambodia,” he said before the signing of the MOU.
The main objective of the agreement is to cooperate, support and join hands for implementation of the “Man Engagement to Stop Violence Against Woman Project” which will be implemented in these universities and other places in Cambodia.
He said that the “Man Engagement to Stop Violence Against Woman Project” aimed to raise awareness about domestic violence against women and children; gender equity, beer girls promoters, sexual health among students and youths in universities in Cambodia. It is also to reduce the domestic violence and poverty in Cambodia.
He added that the partner universities’ participations and support has contributed to the implementation of the project in educating students and youths about violent acts against women, children and girls, domestic violence, gender and women’s reproductive.
Mr. Ouk Sothira, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of PHD, said that the women and girls are the back bond of the economy and national society. They are also the potential human resources in developing Cambodia. He stated that the participation of the partner universities has really contributed to the establishment of the young generation and human resources and women’s values in Cambodia.
“We hope that with the strong participations of partner universities and other involved NGOs and the government institutions we will be able to reduce the domestic violence and other violent acts against the women, girls and children and poverty in Cambodia in future,” he said. “We will also be able to promote the gender equity, prosperity, women’s health and their reproductive in Cambodia,” she added.
Ms. Sharon Wilkinson, Representative of CARE International, said that it is indeed the chance for all people, young and old, male and female to stand up and send the message that Cambodian society does not condone violence against women.
“When ever we think of the word “terrorist” we think of heavily armed masked men capable of random violence,” she said.
However there is sadly no escaping the statistics which show most terrorism and acts of random violence, take place in the home, in Australia alone there are an average of 14 women killed every year by their husbands-the very people whom they should feel most safe with, she said, adding that in Cambodia 63 percent of all women report witnessing or being the subject of domestic violence.
“PHD is actively involved in putting an end to violence suffered by women-PHD is actively involving young men-who while they have been the recipients of good education at tertiary level-still perpetrate violence against women,” she said.
She continued to say that PHD and organizations such as CARE and now universities combine their energies and urge men across the country to speak out against violence against men. She mentioned that violent crimes committed against women and girls-crimes such as domestic violence, sexual assault and people trafficking-continue to be pervasive in Cambodia and around the world.
Violence against women and girls affects everyone in the community. Men’s lives are personally affected if their girlfriends, wives, daughters, mothers, grandmothers or sisters experience violence or the threat of violence, she said, adding that men and boys in particular, but also youth in general, have a crucial role in helping reduce violence in the lives of women. Harmful attitudes and beliefs in community are also a very important part of the problem, and tackling these will assist in building a community that is safer for women and girls.
“At CARE International we provide financial and technical assistance to innovative programs and strategies that aim to foster women’s empowerment and gender equity,” she said.
She continued to say that placing the advance of women’s human rights at the centre of our efforts, we focus our activities on reducing poverty; ending violence against women; reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and girls; and achieving gender equity in democratic governance in times of peace as well as war.
“With the efforts of organizations such as PHD we aim to eliminate violence against women by promoting a positive culture-change around issue,” she said.
She added that the major strategies to achieve this are a national media campaigns as well as education and male leadership programs aimed at men and boys. And in this effort groups such as People’s Health Development Association are an outstanding example of taking in encouraging men to challenge each other on violent attitudes and behavior.