Friday, October 19, 2007

Women take heart

For a political party to choose a woman as a candidate for the position of Prime Minister in next year's Cambodian elections is an unusual and arguably progressive step forward for the women of the country. Yes, of course there are arguments that Princess Norodom Arunrasmey (right) isn't an ordinary woman, she's the youngest daughter of retired king Norodom Sihanouk, she's a puppet of a political party, Funcinpec, that is in turmoil and has no hope in hell of winning the July 27, 2008 election, and so on - but wait a minute, this is male-dominated Cambodia we are talking about and any sign that women are getting a better chance is worth shouting about. Okay, so the party secretary's comments regarding her selection are naive in the extreme; "She is wife of party president Keo Puth Rasmey and current Cambodian Ambassador to Malaysia, and we hoped that she will bring the party to victory in the 2008 election because 50 percent of the Cambodian people are women and they will vote for her. (This shows that) We have deeply reformed our party in accordance with the world situation, under which democracy and women are cared." However, its a sign and any sign is a positive move forwards in my view.

Funcinpec was created by Sihanouk in 1981 as a royalist party. In 1993 it won the general election under the leadership of Prince Norodom Ranariddh. Now it has 26 seats at the National Assembly and ranks as the Cambodia's second largest party but has been split in recent months by defections and in-fighting. For more on Princess Norodom Arunrasmey's life story, click here.

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