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Challenges are not a big deal for a female Opposition Parliamentarian

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In the past, a woman was just a daughter, wife, and mother who would spend her life taking care of her parents, her husband (and her husband’s parents and her children to cook them food, wash clothes, and sometimes earn income to feed all the members of her family. She has no time to think about herself, her health, her beauty, and her value and potential as equal to men, who make most of the decisions involving politics and protect the country. Nowadays, women can be powerful and work as decision makers at country level. However, women still remain in struggle and are threatened during their mission as politicians, as this position is so completely assaulting on their personal security.

Mrs Mu Sochua, 57 years old, is not only a mother of one daughter, but she is also a popular female politician in Cambodia. When she was aged 53, she became a female opposition parliamentarian at the Cambodian National Assembly. She was an adviser for women’s affairs to Prime Minister Hun Sen, and later on she won a national election to be a member of the Parliamentary FUNCINPEC Party and at the same time she was elected to be a minister of women’s affairs for 6 years. Currently, she is joined with Samrainsy Party (SRP) to fight for human rights and against corruption in the government for a better Cambodia. In this party, she is in an especially strong position as women swing to promote other women in politics.

In 1972, she moved to live in the United States because there was a war and genocide in her native country. She got married to American man. After 18 years, she left the land of opportunity where she enjoyed harmony and a modern life style to return to her beautiful homeland, Cambodia, to be an activist, for women and democracy, and to protect women from violation and sexual abuse, “I left my war-torn country as a young adolescent and returned 18 years later as a mother and an activist, working with women’s networks and human rights organizations to promote peace and to include strong provisions in the 1993 Constitution to protect the human rights of women…I have been tirelessly dedicated to this cause ever since.”

Mu Sochua is considered to be the most strong, brave, hardworking leader among Cambodian women leaders. She left her work in the government where she found it difficult to express her opinions and protect victims who were abused by powerful high ranking officials or people, affected by governments’ economic land concession. Since she has joined with the opposition SRP, she has been challenged by many struggles in her work such as a law suit with the Prime Minister that was taken up to the Supreme Court and finally, she was fined to pay for Hun Sen’s compensation. She was barred from attending seminars of government with private sectors and donors. She was also not allowed to use NA conference meeting room to meet up with financial stakeholders.

Lately, she has been threatened from the local authorities (the ruling party), and they are not allowing her to continue educating people at grassroots level about information related to health and voter registration in their villages. She is normally faced with military and arms during demonstrations with protestors, while she works finding justice for garment workers and maids working abroad, and protesting with minority around land conflict etc.

Another challenges for her is that sometimes during the National Assembly session, Mu Sochua was not allowed by the Session President to express her concern over the draft law based on reason that she had repeated the same thing as she already mentioned in previous sessions. This limits her time to speak, because the NA has so many articles left to discuss so she only gets a few minutes to talk.

However, no matter how big the barriers are, she does not care about those and she tries to convince herself to stay calm, to move forward, and to think about a long future. She does not really worry about her safety, and she pursuit and her vision to help women won’t change. She declared that even when she met with such challenges, she didn’t consider the barrier to her work, “I don’t care about my safety. I don’t think it is a big challenge for me. More than once I have come face to face with armed police and military. I have to be strong and have a stable mind” Mu Sochua said.

She argues that only women are strong enough to deal with their own life issues, other women’s issues and their country’s issues. She loves to see Cambodian women have more numbers from year to year in the government sector from Parliament to village chief level. Only women can understand about women’s feelings, so they can prevent injustice and violence again women in the community. It is very good to have lots of women working in public sectors she added, “My strategy for self-protection is to remain vocal, visible and high profile. I strongly believe in people’s participation and in giving women a fair share of development. This can only happen when the government demonstrates a strong political will to develop and implement policies that create special measures and opportunities for women to gain a fair share of development. Discrimination and violence against women can be addressed when society as a whole values women as human beings and as equal partners. As a woman leader I lead with the strong belief that women bring stability and peace, at home, in their communities and for the nation. I feel most satisfied when the women’s networks move together, create a critical mass and gain political space.”

The Parliamentarian Mu Sochua can pass through her difficulties because of her strong commitments like
- Be strong in any circumstances
- Do not have fear. We cannot protect others if we ourselves are weak
- Have positive thinking in promoting democracy which is not always easy. It needs a strong and sustainable commitment.
- Power and position is not the priority to work in Politics, but serving people with justice is the main thing that a good leader should keep in mind.
- Keep thinking it is not normal for women to get in jail, facing with police and arm force.
- Have support from your party, husband, family, and society.

She mentions that those who want to be politicians may also face her challenges and experience what she has experienced, to please think about fighting for justice, which is only thing can push us to move forward.

All in all, she encourages all women to be proud of themselves, and to make a strong stand. Women are very strong with high value. Women should not talk themselves down and feel hopeless. No matter where they are from, if different backgrounds, or even if they are sexual workers, beer promotion girls, living in poor conditions and working in lower fields, they are still significant and can be brave for their family and society.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous new media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

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Comments

Okeny-Lucia's picture

Great Cambodian Lady!

I believe Mu has remained consistent in her course of life because she believes in herself and has transcended this to other women.
This is compelling story told in an easy style of language,takes you through the day today life of cambodian women lifestyle and you feel through the tribulations of what other women are striving to do.One must be true to their cause whether rain or shine.
I am particulary encouraged with her recipe for commitment,Have positive thinking in promoting democracy.

Lucia Buyanza
Reproductive Health

lymalin's picture

Hi

Mrs. Sochua tends to have justice in her society. She works very hard to protect her women who are innocent, and vulnerable. Thanks for support her.

Thanks,
Malin

Caitlyn's picture

Well done Malin!

Well done Malin, and congratulations on finishing your first assignment. Mrs Sochua sounds like a strong woman who has worked very hard for Cambodia, and I hope you found her story encouraging and inspiring. Looking forward to working with you on the next one! Warm regards, Caitlyn

lymalin's picture

Thanks

I will take her story to inspire on my life to be a strong politician in the future. I like the words she raised It's normal for women as politician to face with arm force and military. It makes us a encouragement to pursuit our dream to protest for the justice. Really thanks for your ideas.

Happy to work with you,
Malin

MaDube's picture

I liked the part when Mu

I liked the part when Mu Sochua explained the tactics by the Parliamentary session presidents to shut her up because she was repeating what she had said before. This is a woman who is determined to push for women's issues to be addressed even at the cost of her own dignity. The treatment she is subjected to is humiliating yet that does not not discourage her. I wish all women parliamentarians were like Mu Sochua, then we would know that the agenda of women all over the world is in safe hands. Your story is beautiful.

lymalin's picture

Nice to see your comment again

I feel not happy as well to hear that she was limited to speak as she is representative for Cambodian people. You know, female Parliamentarians in Cambodian National Assembly do want to unite and form a group of female parliamentarian which can protect female parliamentarian from any discrimination and work to promote women as a whole to involve in politics. But the group will not exist because of political trend. Some are from ruling party and some are from opposition party. Cambodian Election Law mention that Parliamentarians' membership will strip off if they are dismissed of party member. So Parliamentarian's activity or expression is base on politically motivated decision. That should be changed!!

Thanks for your comments,
Malin

BlueSky's picture

Worthy!

These words should give us great confidence in our pursuit: "As a woman leader I lead with the strong belief that women bring stability and peace, at home, in their communities and for the nation. I feel most satisfied when the women’s networks move together, create a critical mass and gain political space."

Great insights from one who has made herself an example worthy for all of us to emulate.

lymalin's picture

Thanks

I like her phrase too. I likes her commitment on gaining women in political space. Many thanks for reading her story. Thanks.

Regards,
Malin

Sarvina's picture

Great article! Love, Sarvina

Great article!

Love,

Sarvina

Regards,

Sarvina from Cambodia
VOF 2011 Correspondent

Hin Kunthea's picture

Strong Women

I like you wish to be strong the same Ms. Mu Sokhour and you sound brave to be our next generation to sit in the parliamentary. Read your writing, alert me of injustice in Cambodia that need women to take action and keep going on. Now I see more women in the front line of protest like the case in Boung Kok. Women could make a big change in our society.

Kunthea

ikirimat's picture

Text below article missing

Great and motivating article. A quick reminder, please copy and paste at the end of your article from the link below

http://www.worldpulse.com/pulsewire/programs/voices-of-our-future-classr...

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."


lymalin's picture

Many thanks

Thanks. I will copy and post this like at the end of my article. Thank so much for the reminder. Love you!

Malin

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Great story

Thank you so much for sharing her story with us. It is amazing that she keeps moving forward, despite all her challenges. You have a very strong story, I would suggest trying to add in some relevant statistics to make it even stronger.

Great job!

Rachael

"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Frances Faulkner's picture

vision

Lymalin,

You have inspired us with this great story of a true woman leader and visionary. I love hearing the details and wonder what led her to return to her country -- had she been studying it and learning about it during her years in the US? Was it scary for her to return?

Keep up the good work. I look forward to more--

Frances

Shirley Clark's picture

Being fearless

Hi Malin,

It was great to read your article and learn about Mrs. Soucha's courage. You captured her fighting personality which is an inspiration and a reminder that accomplishing great things means putting your goals before your fears.

Thanks for sharing her story. I look forward to your next one!

Best,

Shirley

carol adams's picture

thank you

Very strong presence of your subject, Mrs. Soucha. What strength and courage she shows...to leave a life of relative comfort to return to her homeland and work tirelessly to empower women and move the country toward greater justice.

Best to you,
Carol

Carol Adams

mrbeckbeck's picture

Good work

Thanks for sharing the story of Mu Sochua, an inspiring leader. I hope that you can take her wisdom and experience and learn for your own goals to be a politician! She is an impressive woman to profile... were you able to arrange for an interview with her personally? I would have liked to read more background information about the current struggles in Cambodia, or more personal quotes from her. But, all in all, I think this is a great article!

Keep up the good work!
Scott

Scott Beck
World Pulse Online Community Manager

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