Cambodian parliamentarian and human rights leader Mu Sochua met with government officials, international leaders, and other activists in Washington, DC to discuss women’s rights and empowerment. At the National Democratic Institute, Sochua gave a presentation on building a women’s movement in Cambodia and shared stories of women candidates in villages and communes throughout the country. In preparation for the 2012 elections in Cambodia, Sochua offered strategies for how to “win with women” that included practical and effective messaging campaigns, funding needs and networking. She called on NDI, USAID and other American agencies and organizations to assist the people’s and youth movement in Cambodia with financial and moral support.
One of the central topics of conversation among the delegations present, NDI staff, and government officials was identifying ways to inspire women and young people to participate in politics. Sochua described in detail the scope of domestic violence, government oppression and life-threatening challenges that face potential women candidates. However, more and more women participate in politics each other and register their names as candidates for office. The Sam Rainsy Party offers training for women candidates in group sessions. Attendees at the presentation were surprised to discover that training 50 women candidates cost a mere $200.
Following her presentation, Sochua video conferenced with women leaders of the opposition movement in Egypt. She listened to their stories and message, and proceeded to exchange lessons from her own experience in politics. Sochua also cautioned them to think carefully about how to craft their message and to limit their anger. Such anger will become a label and a handicap, she said. They also discussed the opportunities of technology to produce new relationships and cover the stories that need to be heard.