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Women with Her Confidence

Being born in one of the Southeast Asian countries, Cambodia, I have inevitably experienced and witnessed gender inequality existed since the past and firmly embedded in our traditions and cultures. To be honest, I considered myself as lucky that I had very supportive parents. I was mentored well my term concerning education, and they sent me to school and encouraged me undoubtedly from kindergarten to college. When my mother got really sick and passed away of cancer a year ago, I, for the first time, was challenged in term of education. I was told to quit my college temporarily to take care of my mother and later to take care of my family since I am the oldest daughter. And again, I was blessed to have the most supportive father. He acted as a shield to protect me from those challenges, and here I am, still in college pursuing my degree.

What I want to reflect here based on my experience is family’s support is one of the most important elements that can steer girls’ lives in my community. Where I live, children are supposed to live with their families and not allowed to move out until they get married, especially girls. Therefore, I think the greatest challenge girls confront in my community in order to access education is lack of family’s support. I know there are many challenges out there too, and people must have questioned me regarding poverty as the challenge that might be greater than the one I just raised. However, from what I’ve seen, some girls are discouraged by their families to further their studies even though some of them were born rich families.

Considered lacking of family’s support is one of the biggest barriers, there are still other challenging barriers in my community that prevent young women from accessing education. Visibly, cultural biases are one of the barriers. Like I mentioned earlier, Cambodia has the default cultural biases since the past and it turned out to be not fair for women. Women are expected to stay home and do good housework when they are single, and to be good and loyal housewives once they’re married. People says “women don’t have to study much for they will be raised (or in more polite word: supported) by their husbands”. This concept has been practiced for hundreds of year and it still exists today. Because of such biases, lack of respect of women emerges automatically. So, women follow what they were told: “no need to study, your husband will support you.” Consequently, once a family come to an argument, it’s woman who was blamed by her husband. She was blamed of not going to work and staying home doing nothing. Woman has never been valued by countless amount of housework she does. All of these problems make women become lack of confidence. For some, they strive to gain it back, and some don’t, sadly.

Though I was not challenged much by these barriers compared to many women out there, I experienced some impacts. As I already said, it was my relatives (some) who still don’t value my studying effort and keep saying I should only learn how to be a good housewife (I do want to be a good housewife, but to become one, I need to be educated, right?). I overcame this impact by protect my point of view and of course, with my father’s support.

In a nutshell, what I am trying to say here is confidence is a crucial component for us, women, to fight for our futures and create our own destinies. It has to be planted and showered from the inside. Most importantly, it is worth noting that being confidence is different from being over pride. Once women have strong confidence to fight for their stands, they will be able to overcome most of the barriers such as cultural biases and lack of respects on us! However, as I repeat again and again, support from family is still very important for women. In order to get such support, we, women need to be able to explain them of why we need their supports. As for economic constraints, this is a tough one to overcome alone; however, it is possible to still get an education once women are supported by their families to do so. Women have to be hungry for education, try their best, and put in their all to get education. Most important of all, women have to have hopes and remember that once they seek, there are many people out there ready to support you, if not financially, mentally. Last but not least, do keep in mind that everything that we, women, have encountered is not designed by god, but man-made; therefore, it is up to us to get rid of it. I strongly believe so.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Neilly, you have brought up some very important aspects of being a girl child! Support is tantamount to achieving success in any arena of life, most specifically academic goals. If I could add my point of view to your? I attended college after my 4 children were grown to adults! I earned my bachelor degree in 2003 and my master's degree in 2006 at the age of 52! It is never to late to realize our dreams. Of course, education before you marry & have children is the preferred way to do it, but again, I say never give up! Thank you for your words!

"Be the change you want in the world." Gandhi

Debra K. Adams, MA
See my vizify bio!
Survivors In Service: Self Empowerment Strategies (SiSSeS)
Consultant/Speaker/Author & Owner/Founder

Neilly's picture

Dear Debra, You are right. I

Dear Debra,

You are right. I agree with you. It's never too late to study. I admire you for striving for education. You are definitely a person that other women from all ages should look up to, including me. I know my writing only focused on girl child because this is what I know most, but it is true that women from all ages should never give up and keep believing in themselves.

Thank you very much for your precious comment.



"You can do it if you believe you can."

Dear Neilly
Well written and valid point but i agree with the second point more that if you believed in your self and your dream you can make it even if without your family support but in that case you might take longer path to education.
We here too in Sudan mothers have changed their doughters future by supporting them to go to school.
Enjoyed reading your post

It is never too late to try make your way to your dream and left up your expectation.
Sudanes Women Building Peace

Neilly's picture

You made your point

Dear Ola,

I agree with you. Girls can still fight against all odds for her path to education though it might take longer time and more effort. That is why family support can encourage girls to reach their education goal a little faster. I am glad that in Sudan, mothers have started to change their ways of thinking and encourage their daughters to go to school. That's a good start. I hope mothers or even fathers everywhere can all do that.

I thank you for reading my post and providing such a valuable comment.


"You can do it if you believe you can."

michelle904's picture

I'm sorry for the lost of

I'm sorry for the lost of your mother.
Yet, I'm so happy to read about your supportive parents. You are very right in the role that parents play in a girl's eduction.

Neilly's picture

Hi Michelle, If not because

Hi Michelle,

If not because of my parent's support, I wouldn't be here today. And i know that every girls, actually every children, need parent's support just like me.


"You can do it if you believe you can."

lydiagcallano's picture


I cannot stop admiring women who persevere no matter how strong the oppositions and discouragements they meet in the pursuit of their dreams.

Being an Asian myself and having experienced biases similar to what Neily has brought to light, I can just encourage the Cambodian girls and women to press on and claim their human rights of expression, education, and self actualization. Time will come the Cambodian men will accept the truth that women are their equal and partners for nation building.

Ma. Lydia G. Callano
Iloilo, Philippines
+63 33 3158137 or 5138830

Neilly's picture

Hi Lydia, Thank you so much

Hi Lydia,

Thank you so much for such support. I do hope that Cambodian men and men everywhere accept our abilities and values as women. All the best to you.


"You can do it if you believe you can."

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