Why Cambodia’s financial sector needs more women leaders
Cambodian women are traditionally charged with overseeing their families’ finances once the paycheque comes home. But while this skillset remains an essential part of Cambodia’s economy, what more can the financial sector do to take advantage of this home
Ros Sopheap recalled growing up in a small rural community of Cambodia and meticulously studying her mum’s daily activities. She was a housewife, which meant much more than keeping the house tidy and cooking meals for the family. She also bought groceries and household supplies, clothed the family, took care of medical needs, oversaw the kids’ education and divvied out pocket cash to her husband and kids to get them through each day.
“If you look at what the wife is doing daily, then you can see the list – the long list. In that long list, one [duty] is financial management,” she said of Cambodian households as she sat at a table in her Phnom Penh office, where she directs Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC), an NGO she founded in 2000 to study and improve gender issues in the country.
Traditionally in Cambodia, men are the breadwinners and head of the family. But when the paycheque comes home, Sopheap said, the long-running tradition is that women are expected to make sure those funds cover all of the family’s costs. They also pass their knowledge of financial management down to their daughters, with the unspoken expectation that they too will one day take charge of their family’s finances.
“At the family level, we women are making a lot of financial decisions, like how much we spend on household items and how much is left to be saved for future spending”
Despite making up the bulk of bank tellers in the Kingdom, women continue to be underrepresented in the financesector’s leadership positions