Women's History Month: 8 Influential Cambodian Women

The month of March is an important one for women’s history, to celebrate their achievements that historically have been frequently overlooked. A highlight of this is International Women’s Day which was celebrated on March 8th, a day that also celebrates prominent women both of the past and of the here and now. At Women Going Beyond we consider it therefore a perfect time to make a small tribute to some influential Cambodian women in the last decade. While they come from different fields, all of these women are influential in paving the way for girls in Cambodia and embody the goals of women’s empowerment and gender equality, which are simultaneously the goals of our organisation.

1.CHAN KUNTHEA has more than a decade of experience working with a variety of organisations that empower women and promote female-led leadership, extensively through JASS (Just Associates). Among these she recently joined a company called Agri-Smart, which provide innovative technical solutions to Cambodian farmers and thereby help fuel local economies.

In 2018, she co-wrote the book Diving Deep, Going Far (2018). It takes its title from the Cambodian proverb that a woman ‘cannot dive deep or go far’. The book is best described as a reality novel, inspired by interviews with 25 real women, though the characters themselves are fictional.

2. AT SOTHEAVY was awarded the Women of the Future of Southeast Asia Award 2020. After noticing the amount of discarded plastic floating in the ocean while on holiday in Kep province, she took out her phone and started recording. After her vlog went viral, she created Think Plastic, a campaign to raise awareness about the issue in Cambodia.

Working as a videographer, she has produced more than 80 videos on plastic and pollution to date, encouraging people to talk about environmental problems. During the pandemic she has also used her skills to spread awareness and necessary information about COVID-19.

3. ROS SOPHEAP is the Founder and Executive Director of Gender and Development for Cambodia, a non-profit with the aim of identifying and putting a stop to violence against women. They organise workshops, and frequently act as mediators between the authorities and individuals. This year she has been part of a new initiative in conjunction with the Cambodian government to tackle the increase in gender-based violence as a direct consequence of the COVID pandemic.