Community dialogue forum: HIV response & youth rights at work
by Nak Thaileak, Linking and Learning team, Live and Learn Cambodia
The Community Dialogue Forum organised by ARV Users Association under “Our Voice Our Community” project provided a space for rightsholders to raise and share the challenges they face in accessing public services, health care service and employment due to discrimination and a lack of understanding of the process with the supporting documents in order to receive support including social protection and equity card.
The fruitful discussion with an immediate response from the local authorities responsible for supporting the marginalised groups to register the Equity Cards, a self-help group representative, a representative of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), health care service providers especially for people living with HIV, and AUA representatives around the challenges the rightsholders raised.
“I’d like to appeal to everyone everywhere to please not discriminate against LGBTQI persons and accept us exactly as we are. This is our nature. We simply follow our hearts and passions. Since I was a teenager, I was aware that my preferences were different from my fellow friends. From the moment I started coming out, I have always been discriminated against, enduring bullying and not being accepted for job opportunity. Despite being capable of working, I was judged by and discriminated against just because I am LGBTQI. Please get to know me before jumping to conclusion of how capable I am as a person.”
– Mrs. Prin Neng, a representative of people who identify as LGBTIQ+
“I would like to express my gratitude to the commune chief and AUA for all the supports so far. Even though, I am living with HIV but I’m healthy as normal person because of the medication and free healthcare service provided at the hospital. Before, I was discriminated against in my community. No one wants their kid to be around me because they are afraid my disease will be transmitted to them. I was also reluctant to make social contact with others as well because I was embarrassed.”
– Mrs. Preab Yeun, representative of persons living with HIV
“However, after receiving support from AUA and the commune chief, my condition gets better. There is less discrimination against people living with HIV, I received fund support every month around $50, and get free healthcare service. I’m so grateful for all of your support that makes my life better and make me live longer,” she continued.
In spite of the fact that AUA will end their project under Voice’s fund in September 2023, AUA has a clear plan in place to ensure that HIV-supportive activities continue even if AUA is no longer present. Mrs. Sienghorn, an AUA spokesperson, stated that “Even if the project is over, we will continue to support the groups through our self-help group and the collaboration with local authorities. Also, we will host an annual reflection meeting with all stakeholders and rightsholders to have a full reflection on the project’s progress, output, and impact thus far, as well as to set up some next action plans to continue supporting the activities and rightsholders after the project concluded.”
Following the discussions, there were some insight sharing on youth’s right at work in order to promote and increase the awareness of youths in community to be well-aware of their rights as employees, employment contract and main points that they should look for in the employment contract. Notably, this is the follow-up activity following the capacity strengthening provided by Linking and Learning Cambodia in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to Voice grantee partners as training of trainer in order for them to continue disseminating the knowledge to their rightsholders in the community.
Youth Phol ChhoRaya, AUA rightsholder mentioned that “Regarding what I have learnt about youth rights at work during the meeting was really great in helping to understand better about rights at work because before we accept the job offer, we need to carefully read the working condition, working policy, roles and responsibilities as well as the rights to express. For the youth, please study hard for your future in getting your dream job and try to understand rights at work in order to avoid exploitation, violation of you trust and work.”
The event “Community Dialogue Forum about HIV Response and Rights at Work” held on 18 August 2023 ran successfully with full participation and support from various key stakeholders. At the same time, Linking and Learning team – Voice Cambodia and Bophana Centre team attended to support for monitoring and amplification purpose.
The Linking and Learning Cambodia team of LIVE & LEARN CAMBODIA is highly committed to continuously capturing and amplifying the voices of grantees partners and rightsholders in order to reach more stakeholders and keep exchanging knowledge, connecting, and learning together.