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Joining hands to stop identity-based discrimination  

by NAK Thaileak, Linking and Learning Senior Project Officer, LIVE & LEARN CAMBODIA  


Following the success of the first activity Community Solidarity for Women Empowerment” in October 2023, the Community of Practice (CoP) – Women team conducted their second workshop on 11-12 December 2023. This workshop aimed to push ending discrimination through joining hands with various stakeholders. The workshop was called “Linking and Learning Event for Freedom, Equality, and Freedom from Discrimination”.


Participants of the workshop
Participants of “Linking and Learning Event for Freedom, Equality, and Freedom from Discrimination” held October 2023


The main objective of the event is to provide an opportunity for the five rightsholder groups including people with disabilities, LGBTQI members, people living with HIV, vulnerable youth and elderly, and indigenous people, to meet and connect closely with diverse stakeholders in Rattanakiri Province ranking from provincial levels to community levels. The groups shared their respective stories and challenges, and got responses to their needs, as well. This initiative aimed to support the amplification of rightsholders’ voices toward reducing identity-based discrimination against.  


The event participants consisted of the CoP Women team: the ARV Users Association (AUA), Women Peace Maker (WPM), Lakhon Komnit Organization (LKO), Conserve Indigenous Peoples Languages Organization (CIPL), and Women with Disabilities Leadership and Advocacy Network (WWD-LAN). The Linking & Learning Cambodia Team and various key stakeholders were also present, including the Department of Women’s Affairs, Department of Labour and Vocational Training, Department of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation of Rattanakiri, National Social Security Fund (NSSF), Technical and Vocational Education and Training Center (TVET), Local Authorities around Banlung city of Rattanakiri Province, and representatives of all the five rightsholder groups aforementioned.


To open the event and set the tone for discussion, her excellency, Sao Phalla, Deputy Governor of the Department of Women’s Affairs in Rattanakiri Province, Mr. Heng ChheangKim, a representative of the CoP-Women Team, and a representative from the Linking & Learning Cambodia team, gave motivational messages inviting participants to share their concerns, challenges and requests for any support needed.


One of the participants sharing her experience and thoughts
One of the participants sharing her experience and thoughts


On the first day, a representative from each of the five rightsholder groups shared their life story facing challenges as they grew up being discriminated against due to their identities. This session provided a space for stakeholders to see through hearts of rightsholder groups and prepare what they could do in response to their needs and concerns.  In the morning of the second day, a round table discussion of with stakeholders was set up for a conversation with the rightsholders. The session was quite lively and interesting as there were exchange of questions and answers between all the five rightsholder groups and those speakers. Before ending the discussion, each speaker expressed their commitment in working collaboratively with local stakeholders and organisational partners to improve the access of information, social services and other related supports raised by rightsholder groups.


Stakeholders during the roundtable discussion
Stakeholders during the roundtable discussion


After the round table discussion of stakeholders, there was a short presentation given by the representative of Technical and Vocational Education Training Center (TVET) about the support and skills training available at the center which can be accessed especially by out of school youth and unemployed youth. In the afternoon, five CoP-Women members representing all rightsholder groups were chosen to lead the CoP, specifically around Rattanaki Province. The objectives, roles and responsibilities were discussed all together.


The five selected women representatives of the CoP
The five selected representatives of the CoP


Upon the conclusion of the event, participants expressed their appreciation to all parties involved for their cooperative efforts in organising this event. Some shared that they often kept themselves locked at home out of the fear of being discriminated against. They had never engaged in any social events or connect with new people. However, after taking part in the CoP-Women events and having the chance to speak up and establish connections with other rightsholders going through similar problems, they came to the realisation that they are not alone on this path. They feel seen, heard and empowered. All of them requested the team to host more events like this often and they are willing to participate and contribute in the effort to eradicate identity-based discrimination.  


As the facilitators of CoP teams, Voice in Cambodia and Linking and Learning Cambodia Team congratulate the CoP-Women Team for successfully carrying out their first and second activities under their joint “Women’s Voice toward Inclusiveness” project. Notwithstanding some obstacle, the CoP Women team is unwavering in its effort and commitment to unite and advocate for rightsholders empowerment to end identity-based discrimination in Rattanakiri Province.  


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