Kambodscha: Mu Sochua

What I will not compromise on are poverty and violence against women.

— Mu Sochua

Mu Sochua (born 1954) is deputy head of the steering committee of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party in Cambodia. A former minister of Women’s and Veterans’ Affairs, Mu spearheaded the drafting of the law on domestic violence and trafficking. A catalyst for policy reform and institution building for the advancement of women and children’s rights, she advises international organizations promoting women’s rights. She authored the Prevention of Domestic Violence law (pending parliament approval) and advocates for a quota system to ensure the participation of women in politics.

Mu Sochua left Cambodia at the age of 18, when the war in Vietnam spilled over into her country, to reside in Paris and then America. Nine years later, she returned to her homeland. "I never stopped thinking about going home," she says. Wearing the traditional Cambodian dress, she stands out in whatever position she holds – government minister, Cabinet spokesperson, human rights activist or member of the opposition party. In 1995, Mu Sochua chaired the Coalition of Cambodian Women for Beijing. She raised funds for 115 grassroots women to attend the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing where she launched a project called "Women Weaving the World Together". She also helped raise funds to bring Cambodian women together to launch the first 100 meters of the 1000 meters of the Cambodian Women’s Peace Ribbon to Beijing 1995. In 2004, Mu brokered a deal with Thailand allowing trafficked Cambodian women to go home rather than be thrown in jail as illegal immigrants. She also crafted a similar arrangement with Vietnam. As a member of the opposition party Sam Rainsy, Mu continues to promote the advancement of women. A program that she started recently, helps women to be economically independent in order to resist traffickers. Under the program, women borrow about US$100 dollars to buy a cart that they use to sell their products to tourists. The message of the program is clear: "Give women a chance".

Sam Rainsy Party