Women and Access to Information Related to Elections

In order to promote discussion on women's access to information, and raise awareness on the importance of access to information, the National League of Communes/Sangkats in collaboration with the Open Institute organized a forum on "Promoting Access to Information (related to Elections) for Women". The forum was held at the Open Institute office on Tuesday 21st August 2012. There were 36 participants (23 females and 13 males), including Sangkat councilors and representatives from the ministries, NGOs, private companies and media.
At the opening, Ms. Chim Manavy, Executive Director of Open Institute, said that people have the legal right to access information managed by the Government related to public services or the private sector. Access to information is vital for progressing issues such as democratic governance, the participation of people in society, economic development, human rights protection, and freedom of expression.
She emphasized that, Open Institute has observed, people's access to information is restricted as dissemination and promotion strategies are still limited and there is not yet a culture of sharing public information. She stated that the forum would consider this problem, as well as: the gap between what is required by the legal framework and the practical implementation of the law; and the impacts on Commune/Sangkat councilor members, especially female Commune/Sangkat councilors whose access to information is still more limited than that of male councilor members.
Ms Sy Taun, Vice President of the National League of Communes/Sangkats, expressed that obtaining information is crucial in a democratic society; because it is the basis of good governance, transparency, and local development. When voters have full access to information on the work of Commune/Sangkat councilors, they will actively participate in the Commune/Sangkat development. As the local Commune/Sangkat develops, it will contribute to poverty alleviation - in accordance with the Cambodian Government's policies. At the forum, the representative from the National Election Committee (NEC) shared information relating to the NEC's promotional strategies for the election campaign. This includes using the mass media, fliers, educational sports, guidebooks, posters, and websites.
The representative from the Committee For Free AND FAIR Elections In Cambodia (Comfrel) presented on women's rights to access information relating to the election, and the number of female electoral candidates between the years 2002 to 2012 (16% of candidates were female in 2002, 21.36% were female in 2007, and there were 25.64% female candidates in 2012). In addition, 2038 women (17%) have been selected as the Commune/Sangkat councilors in 2012.
The forum discussed women's still limited understanding about the right of access to information, the obstacles to accessing information and the level of understanding about the elections. Forum participants considered that the obstacles faced by women in accessing information include responsibilities (towards the family and in the work place), and the fact that they are rarely encouraged to participate in discussions and express their opinions. The forum also looked at voting, women's rights to stand for election, strategies to encourage women to understand the importance of the elections, and a schedule to promote female candidates. It was suggested that, to promote information on the election and save time, an electronic system (online) should be used to check the voter's name, voting office number and polling station.
Note: the National League of Communes/Sangkats has been collaborating with the Open Institute to organize two sets of training for Commune/Sangkat Councilors, government officers and NGO staff to promote access to information, and the collection and dissemination of information.

Ms.Chim Manavy Executive Director Gives Opening Speech Photo ៖ Open Institute

Ms.Kong Ravin Comfrel presents about «The Rights of Women in Access to Electoral Information​» Photo៖ Open Institute

Left Mrs. Ouv Rany, director, Ministry of Women Affairs, Right Mrs. Sok Chanda, CEO of Mekong Net. Photo: Open Institute

Mr. Man Vannet, the program officer of Access to Information, Advocacy and Policy Institute. Photo: Open Institute

Mr.Nhong Dinthan, Vice Director of Metfone Photo: Open Institute

The participants discuss about the current situation of women in accessing to information related to election and the strategic solutions to promote access to information for women.Photo: Open Institute

For more information please read: ​http://www.women.open.org.kh/km/women-and-access-information-election