Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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How Women's Roles In Local Politics Are Understood At The Commune Level: Beoung Preah Commune, Cambodia

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posted on 2022-07-28, 01:22 authored by Koy, Sokunthea

Promoting women’s political participation aims to achieve gender equality and bring justice to women whose rights and choices have been constrained. Women all around the world have remained subordinated in politics, and this is still true today, from the local to the global level (Whitworth, 1994). For some women who participate in public political activities, their ability to gain leadership or primary positions has been restricted by many factors. Gender roles and gender stereotypes shape formal political structures in the same way that these factors shape a family’s structure (Lilja, 2008).

This qualitative study therefore, contributes to better understanding local perspectives on the roles of women in Cambodia’s local politics, either as voters or politicians in order to address gender inequality. This study will be an input for developing strategies which aim at engaging local people in gender equality programs which promote women’s participation in politics, and it will also contribute to the study of gender and politics in Cambodia. Based on Beoung Preah commune, Cambodia, this study drew on feminist epistemology and qualitative methodology. It involved the use of semi-structured interviews and focus groups with community members, political party representatives, local officials and other relevant local actors in Beoung Preah commune.

This study explores local understandings of women’s political opportunities and political representation, in which they believe to make change in their community. This discusses the reasons behind women’s underrepresentation in local politics and suggests steps forward, grounded in local participants’ knowledge. It investigated local discourses on gender stereotypes such as how research participants conceptualize femininities and masculinities constituting the ideal attributes of political leaders. This is important for understanding women and men’s political opportunities and constraints. The study also explored different local perspectives on women’s political representation, expectations, emerging outcomes and socio-economic and political challenges, which make gender inequality a more complicated issue to address in the commune context.

While achieving gender parity is in progress, the query of whether gender equality can be simply achieved right after women’s inclusion in local politics needs to be further investigated.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Development Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Development Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

University Library

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Alternative Language


Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Palomino-Schalscha, Marcela