Monday, February 22, 2010

Crusader Rowing Upstream in Cambodia

“I’m going to get my votes!” cried Mu Sochua as she stepped into a slender rowboat, holding one side for balance. “One by one.”

She was crossing a small river here in southern Cambodia on a recent stop in her never-ending campaign for re-election to Parliament, introducing herself to rural constituents who may never have seen her face.

The most prominent woman in Cambodia’s struggling political opposition, Mu Sochua, 55, is campaigning now, three years before the next election, because she is almost entirely excluded from government-controlled newspapers and television.

“Only 35 percent of voters know who won the last election,” she said.

She has no time to lose.

Ms. Mu Sochua is a member of a new generation of women who are working their way into the political systems of countries across Asia and elsewhere, from local councils to national assemblies and cabinet positions.

A former minister of women’s affairs, she did as much as anyone to put women’s issues on the agenda of Cambodia as it emerged in the 1990s from decades of war and mass killings. But she lost her public platform in 2004 when she broke with the government, and she is now finding it as difficult to promote her ideas as it is to simply gain attention as a candidate.

To read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/22/world/asia/22cambowomen.html

This article was even today on the cover of the International Herald Tribune, as one of the top stories!

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