Overview of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5- Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Thailand: The 5th Regional Fellowship Research Seminar entitled: “Overview of SDG 5- Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Thailand” took place on 17 December 2018 in Phnom Penh. This event was co-organized by the Parliamentary Institute of Cambodia (PIC) and the General Secretariat of the Senate.

Some 70 participants attended. They included Commission 8 of the National Assembly, the Secretary General of the Cambodian Senate, the Ambassador of Myanmar to Cambodia, Minister and Deputy and Chief of Mission of the Royal Thai Embassy, representatives from development partners, the EU, other international organizations and NGOs, PIC’s Board of Directors and parliamentary staff from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Thailand.

The Regional Fellowship Program on Parliamentary Research (RFPPR) focuses on capacity development and knowledge building for staff from Member Parliaments of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) (in particular Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Thailand). For this 5th RFPPR, gender was selected as the main research theme because of its importance for parliamentary affairs and the international development agenda of the respective countries, aligning with the SDGs and key areas of work identified by the Working Group of Women Parliamentarians of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF).

Speaking at the opening of the Seminar, H.E Oum Sarith, Secretary General of the Senate, underlined the importance of the event: “Since 2015, the Regional Fellowship Program on Parliamentary Research (RFPPR) has not only trained parliamentary staff from AIPA member countries in parliamentary research methods and skills but has also allowed them to complete a parliamentary research paper by the end of their six months,” he said. “This year the topic of gender was chosen to test the fellows’ abilities to produce a fact-based, well informed and balanced research paper. I believe that these research papers will be resources for individual Parliamentarians, as well as for parliamentary commissions.”

He added that “today’s seminar, which focuses primarily on SDG 5, is of high importance for Parliaments within the region and within the world at large. Gender is particularly relevant to the work of Commission 8 of the National Assembly and the Senate of Cambodia, whose focus is on Public Health, Social Work, Veterans, Youth, Rehabilitation, Labor, Vocational Training and Women’s Affairs.”

 

H.E. Oum Sarith stressed that the seminar would provide information about the status of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the region, along with key insights into the progress made in achieving the associated goals. Countries are just at the beginning of the SDG 2030 implementation process, he continued, with SDG 5 a priority for a country like Cambodia.

As H.E. Oum Sarith concluded: “This seminar is also an opportunity to demonstrate to all Members of Parliament the importance of capacity development in parliamentary research: this can provide a strong foundation to help Parliamentarians to carry out their parliamentary functions.”

After the opening session, the parliamentary researchers from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Thailand presented their research papers. These were the results of their six-month participation in PIC’s Regional Fellowship Program, and each paper was produced under the tutelage of one of PIC’s Research Team Leaders, with the input of external gender specialists. Five themes had been chosen:

  1. Gender equality and women’s empowerment through decision-making
  2. Asia-Pacific partnership for gender equality and empowerment of women and girls for peace and sustainable development
  3. Women’s economic empowerment for achieving gender equality and sustainable development
  4. Gender equality in access to health services and facilities for achieving the SDGs
  5. Equality for all women and men in education, vocational training, technical skills for peace and achieving the SDG

The presentations were followed by a debate moderated by PIC’s senior parliamentary research instructors.

In his speech, the Executive Director of PIC, Mr Dararith Kim-Yeat warmly welcomed all participants and distinguished guests. “From September 2017 until now, the Fellows have not only built their skills in the basics of parliamentary research, but they have also shared knowledge and experience,” he said. “We extend our deepest gratitude to the national and international experts who have been supporting the Fellows in the completion of their research papers by providing feedback and by sharing their insights about gender issues.” Mr Kim-Yeat also commented that the Regional Fellowship Program encompassed knowledge and capacity development for staff of AIPA (the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly) member Parliaments, and thanked the Parliaments of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, along with SIDA (Sweedish International Development Agency), SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation), for their continuing support and active participation in the event.

Mr Kim-Yeat concluded that “PIC’s regional mandate has been reinforced by the resolution of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) on the Capacity Development Program for staff of AIPA Member Parliaments with PIC that was adopted during the 37th AIPA General Assembly in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, in September 2016.”

 

5th Regional Seminar