Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gender wage gap daunting

Gender wage gap daunting

A garment worker attaches labels to items of apparel in Phnom Penh. A new survey by the ILO found that an earning gap of 35 per cent exists between young Cambodian men and women.
A garment worker attaches labels to items of apparel in Phnom Penh. A new survey by the ILO found that an earning gap of 35 per cent exists between young Cambodian men and women. Vireak Mai

Gender wage gap daunting

Cambodia's young women are earning far less than their male counterparts, a recent study has found, even though a relatively high percentage of them are employed.

A survey conducted in 32 developing countries by the International Labour Organization found that 80 per cent of Cambodian women aged 15 to 24 were employed, which, while lower than the 99 per cent of young Cambodian males with jobs, was one of the survey’s highest.

However, the earnings gap between young Cambodian women and men was 35 per cent, the fourth-highest of the 23 countries surveyed by the ILO for that measure. Vietnam, the only other Southeast Asian country surveyed, performed significantly better, with an overall wage gap of 15 per cent.

For Cambodian women, the gap persists across various levels of education. For recent primary, secondary and tertiary education graduates, Cambodian women earned about 30 per cent, 50 per cent, and 20 per cent less than men, respectively, according to the study.

The ILO survey suggests the pay gap is driven by family constraints upon a young woman’s earning power – such as having to get married early – and the fact that women typically obtained lower-level positions in poorly paid sectors.

Of the young Cambodian women who did not work, more than 37 per cent said their inactivity was due to family duties or pregnancy.

That compares to just 2.4 per cent of young men who pointed to familial obligations. Most men weren’t working due to ongoing education.

For Ros Sopheap, executive director of Gender and Development for Cambodia, the results came as no surprise.

“I’ve noticed that most of the women [in Cambodia] get lower job positions than men,” she said.

“For example, the garment sector is 80 to 90 per cent female, but almost all the technical, team leader or manager positions are male.”

To help breach the gap, the ILO recommended increased government spending and subsidies on skills training for women, along with improved childcare.

But while Sopheap said that ramping up spending would help level the playing field, it was no panacea. “I think stereotypes are still very big in this society,” she said. “If looking for engineers, [employers] will only trust the men.”

Chan Kannha, 20, a female garment worker in Kandal province, said the men there usually made more money.

“I don’t know why, but I think that maybe the employer believes the men are stronger and have more knowledge, that’s why they always get more wages and sometimes a higher position.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior