Rural Cambodian Women as the Recipients of Education and NGO Focus
Elyssa Ford, Northwest Missouri State University
Few Cambodian women, especially those from rural areas, have been able to reach positions of leadership in the workforce or government. Rural youth receive much lower levels of education than those in urban areas, but young women particularly struggle to compete with their rural male counterparts and urban females. All women face restrictions because of geography, cost, safety, and tradition, but those in rural regions, which generally is considered anything outside the capital, face an even greater struggle in each of these areas. Furthermore, poor, rural women encounter additional hurdles because they must succeed in college and the workforce on their own merit. This is difficult due to widespread corruption that controls much of the ability to advance. Several non-profits have begun to address the issue of education and are helping rural women attend college and potentially gain leadership positions. At the 2014 Berks conference, I discussed women’s education in Cambodia and provided an explanation of why many of the limiting factors still exist even though women’s education leads to dramatic changes in family economies, access to jobs, and marital relationships. My personal contribution to this area of study was an examination of what these non-profits are doing and how successful it has been for poor, rural women in the face of the present-day Cambodian state. The basis of this research comes from an on-going study of a group of women as they move from Cambodian universities to study in the U.S. or graduate school elsewhere and eventually to jobs and marriage in Cambodia.