Washington, DC – The International Republican Institute (IRI) released the following statement after a Cambodian court convicted political opposition leader…
A country rich with history and culture, Cambodia sits at a pivotal point in their democratic development. With an emphasis on developing future leaders, IRI programming helps provide women and youth with the skills and knowledge to become active and successful participants in the political process.
IRI has worked with partners on the ground to bring about a free and fair democratic process in Cambodia since 1992. In conjunction with efforts to provide meaningful political choices, IRI’s programming also seeks to combat obstacles to the spread of timely and accurate information. This includes an ongoing effort to protect the fundamental human rights of free speech, assembly, and access to media.
In an effort to foster a vibrant and inclusive democracy, IRI prioritizes engagement with Cambodian youth and women, two populations that are historically underrepresented within the political landscape. Despite Cambodia having the youngest population in Southeast Asia, with two thirds of the population currently under the age of 30, youth continue to have few avenues to participate in political decision-making or step into leadership roles. If young Cambodians are to be more participatory in political decision-making moving forward, they must be provided tangible opportunities to build their political and civic skills, coalesce around shared priorities, and assume greater responsibilities within the political and civic process. IRI therefore works to provide Cambodian youth with skill-building trainings and experiential learning opportunities designed to encourage greater youth participation in political processes.
Like youth, women in Cambodia regularly face significant obstacles to political participation, including violence, socio-cultural norms that position women as domestic caretakers, and barriers to education. IRI programming provides women with civic education, government networking opportunities, and political career support to encourage more women to run for office and advocate for shared policy priorities. In the long-term, youth and women have significant potential to influence Cambodia’s democratic trajectory, which is why they must be provided with the skills necessary actively engage in civic and political decision-making.
In concert with programming designed to train the next generation of leaders, IRI also works to increase citizen participation in political processes. Access to reliable information is critical to this participation, as it can provide evidence of the impact of policy on the day-to-day lives of the public. IRI aims to expand the availability of information on pressing issues in Cambodia by strengthening independent media. Programming trains professional and citizen journalists to safely and effectively gather information and publish findings through digital media channels available to the majority of Cambodians.
IRI will continue to work for a future Cambodia where fundamental human rights can be freely exercised by all people, independent media and civil society flourish, political pluralism is fostered, and women and youth are equal participants in decision-making.
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