Ecole du Bayon, an NGO-operated school near Bayon temple in Angkor Archaeological Park, has launched a photography competition on the subject of ‘Girls and Women in Cambodia’ to highlight the plight of women and the disparity between females and males when it comes to education and employment opportunities in the country.
“Women are the first ones to suffer from a lack of education, making them more vulnerable and exposed to exploitation, forced marriage at a young age, and prostitution,” said Alexienne Fuhrmann, the NGO’s project officer, who is responsible for the competition and exhibition.
According to Fuhrmann, there are more than 25,000 girls of primary school age out of school compared to 2,800 boys; in secondary school 23 per cent of girls were out of school compared to 20 per cent of boys; and young women represent only 37 per cent of the student population in tertiary education in Cambodia.
Fuhrmann said the situation isn’t improving either, but is worsening, with the gender gap closer back in 2010.
“All of the girls enrolled at the Bayon Pastry School are proving that those difficulties are real,” she elaborated. “They all come from really poor families and some of them had to drop out of school because of a lack of money. Girls are also the ones missing from school when their parents are sick and someone has to take care of them.”
Competition prizes include a stay for two at luxury hotel Heritage Suites, pastry making classes with the pastry chef at Bayon Pastry School, VIP tickets to Phare Cambodian Circus, lunch for two at Amansara Resort, and vouchers from Christine’s boutique and Bayon Pastry School Coffee Shop, where the winning entrants will be displayed in an exhibition.