International Women’s Day marks an important event for all women around the world to celebrate.
This upcoming March 8th 2009 marks and celebrates the fruitful struggle of women to get recognition, equality, justice, peace and development.
While the women in countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America are celebrating, the existence of such a day remains unheard of in the Kampuchea-Krom.
For the hundreds of thousands of Khmer Krom women living in the rich fertile Mekong Delta, their struggle for equality and justice is not unlike their fellow women in Russia or Australia.
In fact, the very struggle that the women of Austria, Denmark, Germany and Australia faced in 1900s continues to be a struggle for the Khmer Krom women today.
Like many of their indigenous sisters around the world, Khmer Krom women continue to face double discrimination under the communist Vietnamese government.
First they are discriminated because they are Khmer Krom and secondly because they are women.
Ranked amongst the poorest peoples of Vietnam, Khmer Krom women and children miss out on the basic essential living aids, with little to no access to health care, education and healthy drinking water.
Many Khmer Krom women are forced to find non traditional means to support their families, some forced to travel thousands of miles to find employment, only to find that they are overworked and unpaid. Some find themselves victims of trafficking and unaided by the government are often abused and discriminated.
Despite the overwhelming odds stack against them, the Khmer Krom women continue to a strong and united forced amongst the Khmer Krom communities. In the Khmer culture, Khmer women are considered important in their role as the bearer of the next generation. The traditional role of a wife is to be the head of house and take care of the finances.
Often invisible, they are the backbone of the Khmer civilisation. Instead of confining women to the kitchen and house, current society must encourage women to go to school, be educated and take a proactive role in society.
In light of International Women’s Day, it is important to celebrate the success of many women who fought for their right; it is just as equally important to continue to light the torch for countless others such as the Khmer Krom women who remain in the dark and are still living without their basic rights.