Almost one year ago, in July 2019, Cambodia Center for Independent Media (CCIM) was one of the two local partners of Fojo Media Institute in Southeast Asia, that received in-house training workshop on Gender and Institutional Assessment from Woman Organization for Change in Agriculture & NRM (WOCAN). The training was the fruit of ‘Gender Support Function’ from Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). The 3-day workshop was hosted for 20 CCIM’s staff from 5 departments including management and operation sections.

During the training, the management and staff actively discussed possible way forward of gender mainstreaming in their organization. The discussion also paid much attention on –

  • how to promote gender mainstreaming in their workplace,
  • which area of organization and its operations require to do immediate gender analysis and integration,
  • how to create the organizational gender framework by the meaningful participation of staff.

The team also worked together to develop a gender action plan, which was aimed to integrate in their upcoming 5-year operational strategy.

According to staff, that was the first kind of thorough training they ever had in the topic. The excitement and expectation were overwhelming. Staff expressed their expectations, and shared challenges they had to deal with gender insensitivity in the workplace. “I hope, after this training, female staff will be treated better”, said Thida Lim, the radio production manager, and an elected member of the gender committee that was formed 2 months after the workshop. When asked why she said that, she gave a list of gender insensitive stuff that included mixed restroom, the green jokes, and the inflexible working hours. Staff also discussed how they could do to be more gender sensitive and mainstreaming in their day-to-day working life.

As the immediate result of the training, female staff get a separate restroom for themselves. However, “To visit the toilet, the ladies have to walk pass a room full of male staff”, said Reachni Thor Oum, who is elected as a gender focal point person. “Imagining yourself walking to the restroom with their eyes following you and all the teases.” As of now, a plan to build a new female restroom is under negotiation.

In late September 2019, CCIM was able to form the gender committee with 3 elected members among the staff, in which 2 are women. The Committee is responsible to represent CCIM in gender related events with other NGOs and partners, and to deal with internal gender issues at the office.

The gender focal point function kicked off its work with its draft TOR and gender work plan. Later, the focal point would move on to review gender policy and getting staff to involve in the process.  Then they planned to conduct the organizational gender needs assessment, and liaise with the management for responses on the result of the assessment.

However, various challenges are waiting for them. The gender committee’s tasks are additional to their original job responsibilities. “We are normally very busy with our work. So, trying to do tasks in gender committee is really challenging”, said Thida.

She added that other staff did not participate in the process. “When we asked staff to send us their feedback on gender policy, no one responded.” Thida continued, “We are short in staff. Everyone is very busy with their work. Nobody reads the policies.”

Phally Say, a woman staff in radio production team, said, “I responded to the gender committee’s request, not giving my feedback on the strategy, but sending points that I thought should be considered in the revision of our gender policy.”

Men staff barely noticed the emails from members of the gender committee. When asked, a man staff said, “We voted for them to represent us on gender matter. Reviewing gender policy is their job.”

CCIM is struggling from gender imbalance in many levels. There are only 17 women out of 51 staff. There is no woman in the higher management level, when there are 4 women and 10 men in the mid-level management. There are more women than men (4/2) in the production team while there is only one woman reporter for the whole news team. Women staff feel that the gender sensitivities and gender mainstreaming inside the office is questionable.

According to Dani Caspe, CCIM’s Director of Communication and Fundraising, CCIM plans to improve gender balancing in the organization, including its units with management/supervision levels, such as the Board, Management Committee, and Executive Committee; to improve policies with gender perspectives; and to integrate gender mainstreaming into CCIM’s long term activities. And, the gender committee’s TOR will have to reflect in inclusion of all these tasks.

What’s next?

Gender Committee resumed its duties from mid-June as CCIM reopened office after 3 months working-from-home-period due to Covid-19 outbreak. “First of all, we are planning to request the inclusion of gender committee’s responsibilities in our original job TOR; otherwise, we will not have time to fulfill our obligation in the committee.”Dani said CCIM is activating monthly meeting for the gender committee, and planning to propose the agenda that will encourage the staff’s participation from other units. “CCIM is waiting for the final draft of gender committee TOR and gender action plan so that we can include them in our next 5-year strategic plan.”

“However, we need more support from management and participation from other staff. We cannot do this alone”, concluded Thida.

Report by Kalyan Sann, Edited by Nai Nai