Women make a huge contribution to communities around the world, yet gender inequality remains one of our planet’s most pressing issues. Intrepid has joined the fight for gender equality and this is the first in a series of stories that feature inspirational Intrepid women. Introducing Sreykloeng Ouk, Chief Accountant in Intrepid’s Siem Reap office…
“I was born in 1983, after the notorious Pol Pot Regime. Between 1979-1989 there was civil war in Cambodia, with Government and Vietnamese troops trying to bring things under control and many areas still home to Khmer Rouge troops. There was poverty everywhere and many Cambodians lived in refugee camps along the border between Thailand and Cambodia. My family was one of them.
Like so many girls living in rural poverty in Cambodia, Wattana was forced to leave school in grade six to help support the nine people in her family. To make money, she cut wood for a pittance in a nearby forest. Wattana always knew she was capable of much more. So, when she heard that a Plan partner in a nearby town offered restaurant and tourism training, she decided it was precisely the opportunity she needed.
The course provided young people like her with hands-on training in restaurant and housekeeping services, and included office and English skills to help them get jobs in the Sala Bai tourist industry. However, the training involved an intensive, 12-month course away from home, and her mother believed this to be inappropriate, given Wattana’s gender. She thought her daughter should remain in the village like the other girls, cutting wood and getting married and raising children.
Up until a couple of years ago, most children aged between three and five in rural villages in Laos were not attending preschool. This was largely due to the lack of facilities, trained teachers and learning materials, but also because most parents in rural Laos didn’t understand the importance of early childhood education for children.
Education is a key pathway to breaking the cycle of poverty. As one of the least developed countries in the world, Plan, with the support of SAMA, is working in northern Laos to provide children aged 0-8 years with support for their development. This is being done through education for parents on health, early stimulation and learning, access to quality formal and informal preschool services, as well as school readiness for older children.
With 53,000,000 girls in developing countries being denied access to primary school, there’s no prize for guessing what type of future lies ahead for most of these young women. Gender inequality remains a massive issue, so Intrepid has partnered with Plan for project SAMA. Our aim is to bridge the gender gap through education and our first focus is establishing parenting and community learning groups in up to 45 villages in Laos.
Plan has had encouraging results with other programmes that instil gender equality at an early age and their initiative in El Salvador is an example of how education early in life is a great foundation for a more equal and violence-free society…
Gender inequality remains a massive issue, particularly in education. This is one of the reasons why Intrepid has been spurred into action and joined forces with Plan to set up SAMA, a 3-year global gender equality project that aims to improve the lives of communities and help bridge the gender gap through education.
We’re asking for your support and giving SAMA a High-5 will really help. This recent article from Plan gives an insight into the struggles youngsters in Laos face to get an early education and how much of a difference it makes when children are able to attend pre-school…