By Alison Darcy, CUFA Project Officer and CUFA’s partner, Cambodian Cooperative Association (CAC)
Many people don’t realise that financial cooperatives in Cambodia are not only assisting grassroots economic development but also paving the way for financial inclusion of women.
While great progress has occurred in recent years, rural women in Cambodia generally still have less access to resources and opportunities than rural men. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation women generally have greater workloads, less access to education and training, difficulty accessing decent employment and more socio-cultural and physical isolation. This inequality impacts on the economic development of Cambodia as a whole and also impacts on the social development, health and wellbeing of households.
Cambodian cooperatives are paving the way for gender equality
Financial cooperatives are good institutions to start to breakdown these socio-cultural norms through promoting active participation by women, and in particular, into positions of leadership.
Since 2010, CUFA has partnered with the Cambodian Cooperative Association (CAC) to assist men and women to have greater access to basic financial services. In recent years, thanks to increased training opportunities 60% of CAC’s financial cooperatives board and committee members are female, allowing them to run more financially accountable, transparent and well-managed financial cooperatives.
Across all CAC financial cooperatives 57% of members are now women, empowering them to have greater understanding of financial services, to be part of the financial decision making process and to gain a greater understanding of money and more access to training and support.
So, how do cooperatives promote gender equality?
Financial cooperatives are based on the principles outlined by the International Credit Union movement: promoting equality through open and voluntary membership; democracy by providing opportunity for equal control over governance and direction of the cooperative; and cohesiveness within communities through a community working together to create their own financial institution.
CUFA’s Disability and Gender specialist will continue to work with CAC to ensure women and men have equal access to financial services within the CAC membership.
CUFA has been working with the Cambodian Cooperative Association since 2010 to assist in the successful implementation of operational best practice across six areas: good governance, savings and member mobilisation, managing late repayments, roles and responsibilities of committee members, loan application practices and financial account keeping skills.
For more information on CAC, please contact:
Mr. Vong Sarinda