Rugby woman promoting gender equality in Cambodia on International Women’s Day - The Rugby Observer

Rugby woman promoting gender equality in Cambodia on International Women’s Day

AN INSPIRING young woman from Rugby is promoting gender equality in Cambodia on International Women’s Day today (Thursday March 8).

Erin Anderson-Howe, 24, travelled to Cambodia to improve the livelihoods of young women there.

It is part of a project, run by international development organisation VSO as part of the UK government funded project International Citizen Service (ICS), designed to let young adults contribute to sustainable development projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

As well as hosting English lessons to enable young people to work in Cambodia’s tourism industry, Erin – alongside a team of Khmer volunteers – has also partnered with a local women’s group which aims to equip women with the skills to create business and income opportunities.

The South-East Asian country is one of the world’s poorest, with its economy dominated by garment-making and agriculture. And with almost one third of the population aged under 15, youth employment is a big priority.

The volunteer explained young Cambodians often migrate to neighbouring countries like Thailand for work, due to the education and employment challenges they face.

She said: “During our time here we hope we can create positive change and empower local young people.

“Stigmas still exist in Cambodia regarding what careers women can take and which subjects they can study. There is also an expectation that women must stop their careers and do more domestic duties once they begin a family.”

Erin – who along with her team has organised an International Women’s Day event – added: “We aim to start a conversation about this and hope that our event will go a little way to breaking down barriers, and give girls the confidence to make their own decisions about their future.”

The event aims to raise awareness about women’s rights and includes student and guest speakers, and workshops and activities run by influential community members.

Erin hopes to use her new skills to carry out similar projects when she returns home.

ICS director Felicity Morgan said: “It’s really inspiring to hear about the fantastic work Erin is doing.

“We’re incredibly proud that UK Aid is supporting young Brits to bring about positive change in some of the world’s poorest communities.

“As an organisation working on the frontline against poverty, VSO sees how people across Britain play an important role in delivering UK aid.

“From the NHS and army helping end the Ebola crisis, to the millions who donate, and the contribution we all make through taxes – together we are all making the world a fairer, safer place.”

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