Across Cambodia, women workers are taking the lead as they unite to fight for their rights and demand gender equality in the workplace. Over the past four years, our partnership with Cambodian unions has been instrumental in fuelling this change. 

Meet our partner organisations: 

  • The Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation (CFSWF), represents hotel and restaurant service staff and women involved in food processing. 
  • The Building and Woodworkers Trade Unions of Cambodia (BWTUC), represents the large number of women employed in low-wage jobs in Cambodia’s booming construction industry. 
  • The Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), represents informal economy workers such as street vendors, waste collectors, domestic workers, and tuk-tuk drivers. 

They are collaborating to forge a better path for women workers and the efforts are bearing fruit. Each has developed gender equity action plans within their unions. Collaborating with the Cambodian Government via the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA), three critical priorities have been identified: enhancing access to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), eradicating harassment and violence, and bolstering occupational health and safety standards. 

BWTUC commemorating International Women’s Day 2024

Strong women make strong unions  

IDEA hosted a training for gender rights union contacts, Dec 2023.

The project is contributing to equality for women working in precarious jobs in Cambodia, transforming gender and power in their organisational structures and promoting greater recognition of women workers’ issues thanks to collective learning and engaging the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. 

This has brought great results. There are commitments to increase the proportion of women in union leadership, along with funding to ensure that women staff and delegates undertake professional development, leadership training, and other activities that promote women’s advancement within their organisations. Union staff awareness of women’s issues is on the rise, leading to policy amendments, the establishment of women’s committees, and gender training initiatives.  

The three unions agreed that momentum is building, and the project continues to be highly relevant. 

Building on momentum 

Union partners are updating their gender equity action plans for another 2 year-cycle. This includes developing and improving their gender training curriculum and modules, monitoring, evaluation and learning tools, and rolling out workshops with staff, delegates and members. 

The MoWA hosted a consultation with the unions to better understand the current challenges of informal women workers which provided an important platform to build cooperation for an action plan to improve laws and policies. From barriers to accessing social protections like the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) to addressing issues of sexual exploitation and workplace harassment, the discussions were comprehensive and insightful.  

To amplify women’s voices and raise awareness, our partner unions have been actively organising mass public events and delivering social media campaigns. Notably, on March 6, 2024, the Building and Woodworkers Trade Unions of Cambodia (BWTUC) spearheaded a program shedding light on the struggles of women workers in construction and brick kiln sectors. Their call for Cambodia to ratify ILO Convention C190, to eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work, resonated strongly. 

What’s next 

BWTUC members commemorating the International Women’s Day 2024

Looking forward, while Cambodian unions have made significant strides in building the power of women workers, there’s still more ground to cover.

In our next phase, we’re doubling down on enhancing organizational capacity and systems to ensure our progress is not just temporary, but enduring. We’re arming our union partners with the tools they need to monitor, evaluate, and learn from their efforts, amplifying their impact. 

But we’re not stopping there. The unions are casting a wider net, seeking to bring more voices into the fold, including other government departments. With continued awareness-building, documentation of workplace issues, and the cementing of best practices, we’re not just aiming for change – we’re aiming to secure it for the next generation of women.  

The Women Worker’s Rights through Stronger Trade Unions project in Cambodia is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, QLD Nurses and Midwives Union, and HACSU Victoria, and members of Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA. 

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!