Cambodian women have been emerging in the area of information and technology.
Following the country’s development and exposure to technology, Cambodian women have shifted traditional to innovative, projecting a new image to the society.
In the past, women in Cambodia had to follow strict Women Code of Conduct, in or what we call Chbab Srey in Cambodian. Their actions and behaviour were based on that code.
One clause in the Code states that women are supposed to stay at home, be quiet and sweet. The code also instructs women to respect her husband in any circumstances.
Gender equality in Cambodia only happened in the 70s during the civil war, when all the people had to work in the field and follow the government system of equal labour force.
But the phenomena has changed. In developing countries like Cambodia and its neighbours, the technology development is very welcome by the young generation with passion. Despite the smaller percentage of women in tech, the number of women who chose to work in this field is on the rise.
Technology and Cambodian Women
One of the most active women in technology, Ms. SOK Sikieng, an IT lecturer and entrepreneur, has finished her master study from Graduate School of Global Information and Telecommunication Studies, Waseda University (Japan) in 2012. She has published papers, and won many awards in the field information technology.
After her return from study, she has devoted most of her time to teach and promote events related to technology to young generation.
“I was inspired by it [women in technology] since I was in Japan, and when I return to home I want to help young people to become stronger and not thinking that they cannot achieve.” Said Sikieng.
Sikieng is not alone. She has many like-minded females in her team who share her view.
“We have a team of around 80 people called Cambodia Women in Science and Technology. We would go to tech events such as Barcamp to talk about Women in Technology or help to organize events, mostly voluntarily”.
Ms. Sikieng is currently organizing two events to develop the interest of young generation in technology. She is the consultant for the Development Innovation, a global competition all over the world that aims to attract young girls from age 10 to 18 to develop mobile app “startups” to solve real problems in their communities.
Around 60 girls is mentored by her to join this competition. Technovation coaches and mentors support teams from different countries as they compete for the $20,000 worth of prize in the United States.
“I am very impressed that these girls can make the apps, at first I was concerned but eventually they made it. This will make them believe more in themselves in general ” she said.
Sikieng and her group are also volunteering to organize another tech event in April called Women Techmakers.
Since 2014 to present, Women Techmakers, which founded by Google is launching global initiatives through series of events to support and empower women in the industry around the world.
Now and Then
In cultural context, Cambodian women are still well-manner and industrious. What has changed is that, now, they are not only head of households, family’s caregivers or caretakers anymore. They are also frontrunners of innovation and technology in the society.
By Sokunthea Hang, ASEAN Correspondent from Cambodia