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

Southeast Asia Globe - - Banking - BY JANELLE RETKA

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

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