Monthly Archives: December 2010

A Day Off for All- Dancing with Women Factory Workers

A short slide-presentation highlighting the issues facing women factory workers in Cambodia’s Garment Industry. MP Mu Sochua, advocate for women’s rights spent the day with them on October 31st, 2010.

Song performed by the Messenger Band.

“Seven” – MEPs perform play about human rights activists

“Seven” a play about the true stories of people who have risked their lives to defend human rights. It featured 7 MEPs and was performed on 9 December. By Paula Cizmar, Catherine Filloux, Gail Kriegel, Carol K. Mack, Ruth Margraff, Anna Deavere Smith and Susan Yankowitz it is based on interviews with seven women’s rights activists made in 2007.

Slide Show can be viewed on the European Parliament’s website.

Mu Sochua addressed the working group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe during her visit to the European Parliament and appeared on stage with the seven women Members of the European Parliament after the performance of SEVEN. Mu Sochua appealed for ACTION on the EU Resolution on Cambodia. Mu Sochua called for a stop to sugar imported by Ly Yong Phat company to the U.K. are produced on agricultural land taken by force from 12,000 villagers.

On violence against women Mu Sochua reiterated her view that victims must be empowered to become survivors in order to have the inner strength to restart their lives in dignity. A clean justice system-accessible to women must be enforced and support to countries with the political will to reform their judiciary should be increased.

Interview at the Women’s Forum Global Meeting 2010

The Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society was founded in 2005 by Aude Zieseniss de Thuin to promote women’s vision on the economic and social issues of our time. We aim to become a hub of debate, sharing, brainstorming and action where women and men from around the world and from all horizons speak and exchange on all major societal and economic issues.

From the Women’s Forum website.

AmmazingSeries.com- Mu Sochua Video

Posted on December 08, 2010 on http://www.ammazingseries.com

Mu Sochua met with Amma from Ammazingseries.com to speak about her recent talk at The World in 2011 Forum hosted by The Economist. It was a three day event that focuses on different global issues, as well as solutions to those issues. 

Sochua explains why she became a politician and the many issues that face women in Cambodia today including: land grabbing, poverty, gender-based violence, and lack of education. 

Women must be empowered. The entire society must want change. 

“Everyday is a challenge. The women workers must be with me. The victims of domestic violence must be with me. In all the movements for change, are the women with me? We must not be the voice FOR the women but the voice WITH the women.”

Seven MPs Take the Stage

Amanda Figueroa | Madrid | posted to http://www.elmundo.es

Original version in Spanish here.

Mu Sochua (Cambodia), Mukhtar Mai (Pakistan), Farida Azizi (Afghanistan), Inez McCormack (Northern Ireland), Hafsat Abiola(Nigeria), Anabella de Leon (Guatemala), Marina Pisklakova Parker(Russia). These seven women are examples of female fighters. Each from its place, have faced huge challenges in realizing that sometimes the individual is able to change the course of history.

To remember their efforts and encourage others, seven MPs will take the stage and perform ‘Seven’, a play that brings the viewer to the battlefield.

“It is a very exciting and moving. These are the stories and experiences of these women,” says MP Cecilia Wikström (Alde). The Swedish politician has been the promoter of the project in the European Parliament. The play is in charge of giving body and voice to Cambodian Sochua, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her fight against human trafficking and sexual abuse.

“These stories communicate values that cross political groups. This is demonstrated by the willingness of my colleagues from different political groups to participate,” adds Wikström.

The Romanian Renate Weber (Alde) notes that the stories told in the book are of women who “had the courage to defy their own destiny, their societies and the long tradition of abuse. In this way, they have positively influenced the lives of thousands and thousands of other women. ” She plays the Russian Pisklakova Parker, who founded the first hotline for victims of domestic violence.

The other actresses are politicians: Tanja Fajon (Eslovenia. S & D),Marielle Gallo (France. EPP), Eva Lichtenberger (Greens Austria.)Sargentini Judith (Netherlands. Verdes), Eleni Theocharous (Chipre. PPE)

The artistic director of ‘Seven’ is Hedda Krausz Sjögren, of the Swedish National Theater Company ( Riksteatern ). “‘Seven’ is a theater project that involves many people. Now that the politicians of the European Parliament are on stage to give voice to these activists for women’s rights, human rights issues are placed in the spotlight “she explains.

The work shall be shown on the 8 and 9 December in Brussels. The text was written by Ruth Margraff, Anna Deveare-Smith, Susan Yankowitz, Carol K.Mack, Paula Cizmar, Catherine Filloux and Gail Kriegel, based on interviews with activists. Two of them, Sochua and Hafsat Abiola, will participate in a debate after the event.

World in 2011: A Day of Discussion in New York

December 05, 2010. Elizabeth Tam. NY Business Events Examiner

Full examiner.com article here.

December 4, 2010 marked the third day of the Economist’s World in 2011 Festival in New York.  The day included a series of speakers and panels on various issues that may shape the future of 2011.

Panel on Women’s Economic Opportunity

Alyse Nelson (President and CEO of Vital Vibes) very eloquently introduced the first panel of speakers, including Leo Abruzzese (Editorial Director North America; Director Americas, Country, and Economic Research of The Economist Intelligence Unit)Zainab Salbi (Founder and CEO of Women for women International)Mu Sochua (Member of the Cambodia Parliament) and Kah Walla (Director of Strategies S.A. and Presidential candidate of Cameroon), who discussed the issue of Women’s Economic Opportunity.  Nelson explained how women and girls are underutilized and how the world needs to utilize all of their resources and potential, both men and women.

Leo Abruzzese started the panel presenting a study conducted on the economic opportunity of women, highlighting countries’ ranking on how they compared on this topic.  Out of 113 countries, Sweden, Belgium and Norway ranked at the top of the list, Chad, Yemen and Sudan at the bottom, and the United States ranked #15.  The United States was ranked #15 due to the fact that the United States does not sign international treaties to protect women’s rights and does not have mandatory maternity leave.  The report concluded the driving factors of economic opportunity to be based on four items: 1-Labor Laws and Practice, 2-Access to Finance, 3-Education and Training, 4-Legal and Social Status.  Three important issues that need to be addressed are the issues of: 1-Maternity Leave, in which the US is one of 2 countries that do not have paid mandatory maternity leave and benefits, and will be the only country next month; 2 – Equal pay for equal word, there is good legislation, however this is not being enforce; 3 – Violence Against Women, women exposed to violence earn 50% less than those who are not.

Mu Sochua spoke on the importance of not just making predictions, but how to make it work and the necessity to break issues down to the micro level, using the “she economy,” i.e.She is in…, her, economy.  Women need to justice and people need to make a commitment.  Zainab Salbi made a few predictions for the future, revolving around the notion women are the solution; women make up 80% of the work force, 60% of the food in the world, but only own 2% of the land.  She believes that the two main actions that need to be made to achieve this are to: 1-private sector engagement, and 2-to start portraying women as good borrowers, this will not be an easy or cheap process.  Kah Wallah discussed three important issues that need to be addressed in 2011: 1-countries need to make a commitment as most of the growth is in developing countries, not the developed countries; 2-corporate level partners, companies have the opportunity to make a conscious effort as there needs to be more women in high level positions, and 3-this notion needs to be taken to global discourse and needs be discussed with the G-20.  The opportunities are there, countries just need to commit.

Cambodia’s Democratic Warrior

By: Dustin Roasa for The New Republic

On a Saturday morning in July, Cambodian opposition politician Mu Sochua traveled to the dusty, sun-baked suburbs of Phnom Penh for a rally. Close to 100 Cambodians—most of them poor women sitting on plastic chairs squeezed into the ground-floor room of a supporter’s house—stood and applauded when she arrived. Wearing a traditional sarong, with her silver-streaked brown hair tied back, the American-educated parliamentarian took a microphone and began to speak. “People are in the mood for change. The government is afraid of the power of the opposition,” she said, her rising voice punctuated by the chants of Buddhist monks wafting in from a nearby temple. A supporter dimmed the lights, and Mu Sochua, who represents the southern Kampot Province, lit a slender white candle, the symbol of her political party. She then led the room in a stirring rendition of the patriotic song “We Are Khmer.”

The next general election in Cambodia is not until 2013, so Mu Sochua wasn’t trying to convince people to go to the polls. But there was still pressing political business to attend to: She had recently been the target of a defamation lawsuit, surreal even by Cambodia’s authoritarian standards. In April 2009, Prime Minister Hun Sen used the epithet “strong legs,” a colloquialism for a prostitute, to describe Mu Sochua in a speech. She sued him for defamation, and Hun Sen countersued—the logic being that accusing the prime minister of defamation is itself an act of defamation. Predictably, the courts, which are stocked with judges loyal to Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), threw out the case against the prime minister, found Mu Sochua guilty, and fined her. She refused to pay the fine, even when the courts threatened to throw her in jail. 

Taking advantage of a seemingly bad situation, Mu Sochua used rallies, like the one I attended, to draw support for both her legal dilemma and her broader goal of democratic reform. And, in late July, as criticism from human rights groups in Cambodia and abroad mounted, the government backed down and ordered her fine deducted from Mu Sochua’s parliamentary wages. She was spared from prison—but the damage, at least to the government, had already been done. 

Using the defamation suit as a springboard, Mu Sochua had positioned herself almost overnight as the leading opposition figure in Cambodia. Her story garnered significant attention from both the local and international press, the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament have highlighted her case, and many Cambodians now see her as the natural successor to Sam Rainsy, the longtime opposition leader who was forced into exile following his own court convictions for criticizing the government. “Before the defamation case, she was not very well-known by the Cambodian public, but this case has raised her profile significantly,” says human rights activist Ou Virak. “She’s the only woman who’s willing to stand up to Hun Sen.”

Read the full article here.