Australia Supports Women’s Economic Empowerment for Women Vulnerable to Gender-Based Violence

Australia Supports Women’s Economic Empowerment for Women Vulnerable to Gender-Based Violence

As a part of its efforts to prevent gender-based violence (GBV) and improve service provision to women and girls affected by GBV, the Australian Government, through the Australia Cambodia Cooperation for Equitable Sustainable Services (ACCESS) program, supported the Women Development Centres in Siem Reap and Kampong Speu. The goal was to develop and implement a pilot project aimed to strengthen the economic resilience of groups vulnerable to GBV. The Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) pilot project for groups vulnerable to GBV took place from June 2022 to June 2023. The project aimed to demonstrate a sustainable model for enhancing the economic resilience of groups vulnerable to GBV through vocational and soft skills training, as well as through the provision of small grants for vulnerable women that are at risk of GBV.

On 12 June 2023, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA) organised a final reflection and wrap-up meeting for the Women’s Economic Empowerment Project which targeted women vulnerable to GBV in Phnom Penh. The purpose of this meeting was to share achievements of beneficiaries who were students at the Women’s Development Centres (WDCs) and to reflect on experiences and lessons learned by stakeholders during the project’s implementation.

The wrap-up meeting brought together representatives from the Gender Equality and Economic Empowerment Department of MoWA, the Provincial Department of Women’s Affairs (PDoWA) and WDC officials from Siem Reap and Kampong Speu provinces, as well as representatives from ACCESS and other relevant consultants.

Ms Anne Rouve-Khiev, Team Leader of the ACCESS Program, expressed gratitude for the partnership and collaboration provided by MoWA in supporting WDCs, which benefit women vulnerable to GBV. She expressed her appreciation for learning about the key achievements and lessons learned from PDoWAs and WDCs.

Ms Sav Kimsoeun, Deputy General Department of Gender Equality and Economic Empowerment of MoWA, spoke in her opening remarks at the wrap-up meeting, she reiterated the significance of the pilot project, and emphasising how women vulnerable to GBV have gained financial literacy and used it to achieve their targeted goals.

During the wrap-up meeting, Deputy Head of Economic Empowerment Department of MoWA and consultant provided the final key achievements of the pilot project, and key indicators of the project expectations, and the evaluation results of the capacity development trainings provided to MoWA and PDoWA officials, and staff of WDCs involved in the project’s implementation. The pilot project yielded the following significant achievements:

– The evaluation showed that the curriculum used by the WDCs responds well to the needs of women vulnerable to GBV.

– Eighteen key staff members of PDoWAs and WDCs have received “Training the Trainer” skills in the areas of women’s leadership, communication skills, gender awareness, effective response to GBV, financial literacy and entrepreneurship.

– Thirty staff members of WDCs underwent training on the Minimum Standards of Basic Counselling, provided by ACCESS’s Implementing Partner – Transcultural Psychological Organisation.

– Seventy-five students (50 students from Siem Reap and 25 students from Kampong Speu) at WDCs have been trained on gender and how to respond to GBV, women’s leadership and communication skills, financial literacy and entrepreneurship.

– The final pilot project provided the support to eighteen vulnerable women are risk of GBV to start up their small business. Among them, 15 are from Siem Reap, while 3 are from Kampong Speu, and 2 are women with disabilities. They have now been prepared to establish their small businesses.

– WDCs produced leaflets and videos to create awareness of its services and to reach women in the community and encourage them to join the WDC training program.