Plan International, in collaboration with Siem Reap-based Women’s Resource Centre, is implementing the “Safe City for Girls” project to ensure the safety of 1,500 girls and young women in Siem Reap’s public spaces.

According to an action document obtained by The Post on September 7, the Women’s Resource Centre is directly overseeing the initiative, with a three-year budget exceeding $280,000 from Plan International.

“Project implementation will occur in 10 schools in Siem Reap, including three universities, five high schools, and two junior high schools. The focus is on taking action to stop sexual harassment and harassment of girls in public spaces,” the document stated.

The document further expresses the expectation that upon completion, girls and young women will feel safer when travelling in public areas such as entertainment places, communities, and streets. Additionally, participants will have increased opportunities for involvement in development and city governance while having access to secure urban mobility.

On September 6, the two organisations joined forces to provide training to approximately 40 students at Build Bright University in Siem Reap.

The training aimed to educate them about sexual harassment and raise awareness among young people on creating safe environments for teenage girls and young women.

Yi Kimthan, deputy country director for Plan International Cambodia, told The Post that these efforts aim to enhance safety and inclusivity for teenage girls and young women in town.

The project includes activities to raise awareness among young people and the general public about creating a safe environment for girls and young women in Siem Reap.

Kimthan also pointed out that this project contributes to enabling young women to have a voice in Siem Reap’s planning and development processes.

“The project will make girls in Siem Reap feel secure and more able to move around without fear of abuse. We have educated both girls and boys on promoting girls’ rights and reducing discrimination and abuse,” he explained.

Bun Pov, an 18-year-old Grade 11 student in Siem Reap who attended the project’s training, highlighted that girls often don’t feel safe when travelling or going to public places, especially at night. Some parents restrict their daughters’ activities due to fears of harassment by boys.

“Recently, a girl was cycling to school when a group of men shouted at her, making her feel unsafe. Through this project, I have gained valuable knowledge about gender concepts, gender-based violence, and sexual harassment,” Pov said.

Ratha, another 18-year-old Grade 11 student, shared that she used to be reserved and hesitant to speak with adults due to fear of powerful individuals and local authorities.

However, after completing the training course, Ratha felt more aware of her rights and more courageous.

She is particularly committed to challenging and resisting abuse against girls and ensuring safety in public spaces without harassment.

“I volunteered to become a Youth Ambassador. I’ve actively worked on raising awareness about gender concepts and combating sexual harassment among students in my school and neighbouring schools,” she said.

“As a representative, I’ve participated in commune and municipal committee meetings, providing insights on women and children’s issues. This has allowed me to engage with numerous decision-makers and boost my confidence,” she shared.

With this increase in self-assurance, Ratha hopes to inspire other girls and young women to be courageous and feel safe in public spaces, whether it’s daytime or night time. She envisions a future where their safety is assured and they are shielded from abuse.