Location: M’Lop Tapang Center, Preah Sihanouk Province, on Friday, May 29th, 2015.

Goal: Support Khmer Krom women in defending their rights and participating in social and political activities in their communities.Project Objective: To increase the understanding of civil and political rights, children’s rights, women’s rights and gender equality in Khmer Krom communities; build the capacity of Khmer Krom women to advocate for their rights; and to encourage Khmer Krom women to actively participate in community development and political decision making.

Implementers: Minority Rights Organization (MIRO), Mr. SOURN Butmao, Executive Director, Mr. NOUN Sovanrith, Deputy Director, as a trainer, Mrs. SUON Sovann, Project  Officer, as a trainer, Mr. Khieng Vankhet, MIRO’s key person, as workshop assistance, Mr. Khorn Sokheng, intern, and Ms. Lauren Schoenster, intern, as assistants.

Topic: Human Rights, Women’s Rights, Children’s rights, Advocacy skills, Gender Equality and Domestic Violence.

Participants: 25 participants were selected and invited to attend the workshop, of which five were men. 25 people showed up in the morning and afternoon. There was a wide range of age difference in the group, from 18 to 59. It has to be noted that there was one small child present at the workshop because his mother did/could not leave him at home. Out of all of the participants six women and two men were illiterate. This means that about 70% of the participants were literate. All participants were Khmer Krom that came from three communities located in Sihanouk town namely: Phum 1 , Phum 2 and Phum 5.

Methodologies: There were distinct methods of teaching applied throughout the workshop. Mr. Noun Sovanrith used more of a theoretical approach, by giving a lot of information regarding human rights, women’s rights, children’s right and advocacy skills. At the end the participants were able to ask questions and receive answers on the topics previously addressed. Ms. Suon Sovann used more of an interactive method combined with a theoretical approach, giving plenty of information about gender equality, with some visual aid to make it easier for the participants to understand. She was asked a lot of questions by the participants before starting the lecture and encouraged interaction with the audience by asking questions and involving them in the lecture. There were group discussions where the participants shared their ideas and discussed what they knew about the subjects, depending on their knowledge and/or real life experiences. Mr. Suon Butmao used a theoretical approach combined with the performance of a role play scenario by the participants. He also used pictures and held a discussion about domestic violence. At the end of their presentation, the lecturers separated the participants into groups and encouraged each group to brainstorm collectively and write down their discussion and outputs on big sheets of paper, which when filled up, were then hung on the wall in front of the classroom. A representative of each group came to the front of the classroom and explained the main points of their group discussion to the other participants. Finally, at the end of the workshop, these sheets of paper were taken back by the MIRO staff in order to use them as an evaluation tool and further inspiration.  Before the lectures and teachings began, a plastic folder was handed out to the participants. The folder contained pens, a notebook, the lesson plan, an agenda, a daily timetable and various informative booklets on indigenous women and men dealing with change: an introduction to gender analysis (HBS), Domestic Violence law (CDP), Human Rights and Gender (ADHOC), the optional protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (OHCHR), Gender View (GADC), etc. At the end of the lectures, an evaluation test was conducted in order to get some feedback on how effective the workshop was. The proceeding of the training: The workshop lasted one full day, from 08:00 to 17:00. The majority of the participants were very glad to have attended the workshop and expressed gratitude, as Khmer Krom people, to have the opportunity to voice their concerns about their rights. Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 10.06.58 PMOpening Speech by Mr. SOURM Butmao, Executive Director: He opened up the day with a welcome remark, thanking all the Khmer Krom participants for using their time to attend the workshop. He started the lecture by briefly introducing the participants to the history of Minority Rights Organization (MIRO), and went on to explain why this workshop focused on Khmer Krom communities, especially in regard to women obtaining access to equal rights, gender equality, participating on decision making in their families and communities, and protecting themselves from gender discrimination and/or domestic violence. Butmao stressed how this workshop was specifically designed so that the participants can become aware of their rights and how they can apply what they have learned to other people in their communities. He introduced Mr. Sovanrith that would further explain the topics of human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights and discuss advocacy skills. Afterwards, he explained the importance of understanding the significance of domestic violence, topic which he would address later on, and gender equality. He also introduced the MIRO trainer Ms. Suon Sovann, who was going to develop the lecture on gender equality. A special acknowledgement was made towards the donor, Heinrich Böll Stiftung (HBF). After the welcoming speech of MIRO’s Executive Director, Ms. Sovann asked the participants to introduce themselves (name, age, occupation, community they belong to) and to write their expectations for the workshop on the index cards. The warm-up created some interaction between the participants and consequently established a more positive atmosphere. This environment was developed in order to help the participants to feel comfortable enough to start sharing their opinions and personal stories. Before the beginning of the training we talked about the rules of the workshop: participants should be on time, keep silent during lectures, switch off their phones or put them in silence mode, raise their hand when they had a question, and if someone arrived late would she/he would have to do the tasks by team order. After this, Sovanrith started his lecture on human rights, women’s rights and children’s rights. To begin the lesson he asked and answered a series of questions: “What is a minority?”, “Minority can be a group of people that have to leave their homeland to another country, for example: in Cambodia there are Chinese, Vietnamese, Cham, Lao…”; “What is a human right?”, “Human rights are rights inherent to people as they are born”; “What rights do people have?”, “People have the right to life, to freedom of expression, to receive a birth certificate… We have five basic rights: civil, political, economic, social and cultural. For example, people have the right to wear traditional clothing for wedding parties or to go to the pagoda, people have the right to vote and participate in politics, people can live together with multiple nationalities like Khmer, Vietnamese, and Cham, Chinese, and Lao…etc.”. He gave a general overview of human rights issues and then moved on to concentrating specifically on women’s rights and children’s rights, such as the right to life, decent housing, freedom of expression and other fundamental rights. Rights which are more specific to the child were addressed, such as basic rights to life, education, food, health care protection, water, identity, freedom and protection. At the end he talked about the categories of civil and political rights and of economic and social rights. He  gave some examples: people have the right to speak, write a letter or to protest when they face a problem or see something not good in society. Men and women have the right to suffer no discrimination at work. A participant asked a question: “Can a 8 months pregnant women be sentenced to the capital punishment for drug trafficking?” The answer was: “In that case, it would depend on the country’s law. She could be subject to capital punishment after giving birth to the baby. As for Cambodia, there is no capital punishment”. After the theoretical explanation of the rights of women and children, which are rights, interrelated to general fundamental human rights, we conducted a brainstorming group activity. There were three group discussions about women’s rights and advocacy techniques. One of the groups discussed what women’s rights are. It was explained that these rights are not only granted by international law but are also present in the Cambodian Constitution. Regarding advocacy, it was discussed that advocacy is a strategic activity that people use in order to change something that is not good to become better depending on their needs. Advocacy can be used by a group of people to make a positive change in their community. For example, if the road of one’s community was closed, people should be able to request help from local authorities to solve the issue. If the local authorities won’t help, they can reach to the provincial authority or the National Assembly. The process of advocating was described as “a set of activities people conduct in order to influence the policy maker’s mind when attempting to make decisions which have an impact on their community”. However, the process of advocating can face many problems. For example, women living in Boeungkok community were arrested and sent to prison after they rightfully fought for their rights to live on the land that they have lived for a long time. There are five points for advocacy success: mobilizing people to participate and attend, follow the law, have responsibility, conduct the activity peacefully and have a good representative. Lobbying, protesting, distributing pamphlets and starting petitions are some of the most typically used methods when advocating. Another advocacy technique that people can perform is to send letters to request government intervention. Gender Equality by Suon Sovann, Project Officer of MIRO: Sovann started her lecture by dividing the participants into three discussion groups. Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 10.12.20 PMThe question to be addressed was the physical differences between women and men. The discussion started off with some simple physical differences such as: men have a deeper voice than most women, women wear earrings, which most men do not, women can have babies and breastfeed which men cannot, etc. The discussion finally resulted in the concept of gender equality being established. Sex is the physical attributes that a human being has, whilst it is used when one is speaking about attaining equality for both men and women. After the group discussion Sovann asked the participants what was the difference between sex and gender. The participants answered that sex can’t be changed while  gender can change depending on society. The term “gender equality” was most known among the younger participants than the older ones – it was interesting to see how state schools are actually educating young girls about rights and gender equality. Participants stated that men and women in Cambodia have not yet achieved gender equality. The majority of women have regular daily jobs just as men, but when they Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 10.14.09 PMgo home most women have to work more, like cooking, looking after children, washing the family clothes, etc, while men rest or go outside to meet their friends. It is the little differences such as this one that makes it difficult to attain a job. After having asked whether the participants knew what gender inequality was, to make sure that the participants understood the lesson, we developed an exercise and invited the participants to use a colored sticker to decide which statement that was written on the board corresponded to “sex” and which corresponded to “gender”. After the exercise we were able to better estimate their knowledge of the issue, which was good since most of them chose the correct answer.  In order to increase gender equality, women should have access to general education, develop skills and get more experiences to join the workforce. On the other hand, men must promote and provide opportunities for women to participate in all work that they can. Communities should encourage women to join all activities without discrimination and women should play a big role in the process of developing our country. After finishing the speech and discussion on gender equality, we started a new topic, focusing on domestic violence. Butma askesd many questions: “What is the meaning of family?”, Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 10.16.18 PM“To be part of a community, to have the support of a husband, wife, children and parent”; “What is the minimum age that men and women must have in order to get married?, “18 years old”; “What should people do after getting married?”, “Get a marriage certificate to legally become wife and husband”. He stressed the importance of getting a marriage certificate, that can be useful in dividing the property if the couple get a divorce, to request pension for feeding, etc. When the couple has children, they should also obtain a birth certificate to use to attend school, make a passport, identity card, etc. Butmao then move on to focus on domestic violence: “What is domestic violence?”, “How many types of domestic violence there are?”, “Who can help a victim in the case of domestic violence?” etc. After the exposition we divided the participants into three discussion groups. It was explained that domestic violence occurs regardless of the social class one belongs to and that  there are many different ways of classifying domestic violence. Domestic violence was explained as having three elements at its base: acts, violence and family. There are also four major categories of abuses differences which are: physical, sexual, economical and psychological. ” When domestic violence occurs who can intervene?”, “The neighbor, relatives, local authorities, such as commune chief and village chiefs”. If the couple can’t live together they can file for divorce before the court. The lecturer gave examples ofScreen Shot 2016-04-24 at 10.18.07 PM different types of domestic violence. The participants raised questions related to domestic violence: people living under the same roof but in different rooms, that would not constitute domestic violence. Another case was that of a man that has two wives and lives in different houses. If his first wife bites the second wife it would not be a case of domestic violence. After the explanation we divided the participants into three discussion groups. The questions were: 1. “How many types of domestic violence there are?” 2. “What conditions could lead to domestic violence?” 3. “What impact domestic violence could have on one’s family and society? “  The authorities should follow the procedures set by the Ministry of Interior in any related field, and should attend a training workshop about anti-domestic violence alongside citizens, in order to bring peace into our society. At the end of the lecture, two participants raised a personal problem and concern regarding domestic violence. Ms. Nop Nguon complained that her husband always curse her and her son. She asked MIRO for help to educate her husband to stop this violence. She said that the commune chief used to educate him but he would keep doing it again and again. She also requested to lower the cost to make a family book (now it costs around 50$). Ms. Roeung Ren also has a problem with her husband in regard to domestic violence. She said that her husband gets drunk every day, and when he comes back Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 10.20.02 PMhome, he tortures her and their children, psychologically and sometimes physically. She needs help from the authorities and NGOs because she gets very sad on a daily basis. Ms. So suong asked how does the Cambodia Constitution classify Khmer Krom (Khmer Krom as Khmer or Khmer Krom as a minority)? They asked MIRO to explain this situation to them. The participants suggested that the next workshop should be about clarifying this case. Mr. Yim Yorn said that they were interested in this workshop because they can learn more about domestic violence and who can help them when this problem happens. Ms. Sreng Sam Art commented that the workshop gave her a lot of knowledge related to living in the community, and said some people still think that  women should only stay at home to take care of the children and the family, but now women have the right to attain all kinds of jobs in society.

Closing speech: At the end of the day, Mr. Noun Sovanrith, Deputy Director of MIRO, asked the participants to share what they have learned in the workshop with the people in their community, because all the topics that were addressed in the lectures are very useful (huma rights, women’s right, children’s right), and it is really important to share good values with the people that live in the community, especially Khmer Krom, in order to help them understand that they have the same rights as Khmer people. He then focused on the topics related to gender equality and domestic violence, and the importance of these issues to women in empowering themselves through knowledge. He stressed the importance of women in understanding the value of her role in society, and her right to receive the same wage as men when performing the same job, without discrimination. Besides this, understanding and controlling domestic violence is a good factor to help reduce domestic violence, since the training course showed the participants the disadvantages of domestic violence (injuries, deaths, children without parents and so on). He then reviewed the advocacy topic. Advocacy is a movement for change, from negative to positive, of a problem that occurs in society. Advocacy is a way to show people’s needs and demand changes (for example, regarding the right to life, land’s rights, and other situations that affects the livelihood of people). In conclusion, the purpose of our training course was to give well-informed information and knowledge on sensitive topics regarding humans rights (specially women’s rights, children’s rights, domestic violence and gender equality) to all the participants and to have they share their newly acquired knowledge to other people that live in their community in order to involve and develop our society.

Finally, he expressed his gratitude towards HBF for cooperating with MIRO’s projects and providing the financial support needed to the development of the workshop. He also thanked MIRO’s team, the participants and M’lup Tapang Center for providing the location.


1. 18 participants were interested in the following topics: human rights, women’s rights, gender equality, domestic violence, advocacy skills, and children’s rights. 7 participants were less interested in the following topics: human rights and advocacy skills.

2. 21 participants understood the topics whereas 4 participants understood only a little, especially about advocacy skills and human rights.

3. MIRO’s next workshop should focus on domestic violence, women’s rights and gender equality.

4. 23 participants were satisfied with the material, lectures, capacity of the trainers, and training methodologies. 2 were not so satisfied with the material and lectures.

5. Recommendation of participants: 1- provide more training on new topics; 2- provide more training for new people; 3- hold a workshop training about anti-corruption and political participation.

6. Conclusion based on the evaluations: All participants showed strong interest in the topic presented. They will share their knowledge with friends and family in their communities, and put the training into practice when domestic violence cases takes place.


All participants were interested in the workshop, even though some of them are illiterate. They thought these were very useful topics and they gained a lot of knowledge from this training. They hope that when people understand better the topics of human rights, gender equality and domestic violence, they their communities.

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