This research report is one of five case studies commissioned by Oxfam GB on the impact of the global economic crisis on women in East Asian countries. In Cambodia, the economic downturn has severely affected the garment industry, in which women are vast majority of the work force, due to reduced demand for garments in the US and EU. Other affected sectors are tourism and construction. As well as its impact on employment and income, the global economic crisis has extended its effects to the welfare of individuals at the household level through reduced remittances from urban jobs, decreased income resulting from fewer economic activities, limited spending, and the drop in prices of some agricultural commodities such as rice, rubber, cassava and maize. The impact of the economic downturn has translated into job insecurity and deteriorating working conditions, leading to lower incomes or in some cases, legally unprotected employment. Women, particularly in women-headed households, have found it hard to deal with their family livelihood responsibilities and face limited job opportunities. Coping strategies can put their health, security and social position within communities at risk. Despite such negative impacts on women in Cambodia, the evidence of intervention through external assistance to the households at the community level fell between 2008 and 2009, and women-headed households were not taken into account sufficiently in the distribution of aid. Key recommendations To improve the livelihoods and wellbeing particularly of women and children who are victims of the economic downturn, the government of Cambodia should consider implementing the following measures:
- Scaling-up existing sectoral interventions that have demonstrated success in addressing food insecurity, malnutrition, school dropout, child labour etc. and other human consequences of a crisis situation;
- Developing new programmes to prevent and address the effects of the crisis on nutrition, health, school attendance etc., particularly on vulnerable and poor groups, through social protection-related interventions; and
- Reinforcing the provision of basic social services (increasing coverage, utilization, quality, and equity), including care services.