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Women’s Empowerment at VBNK

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Beginning in 2007, VBNK organised a series of workshops with VBNK women staff which aimed to strengthen and increase self confidence amongst the women, both in their work and in their personal lives. Since then the women’s group has continued to informally meet to discuss how they have been applying their learning into their work and personal lives. During their meetings, the women exchange stories and identify successes and challenges. They talk about when to be flexible and when to ‘stand ground.’ They problem-solve together and offer each other support and advice about, for example, how to recognise and work with conflict, how to effectively negotiate and how to develop supportive relationships in the workplace and in their personal lives.

 

The women subsequently reported a number of benefits. They feel valued as they have been given space to raise their concerns and to offer advice. They report that increased self awareness has allowed them become less judgemental of others. They have built trust and become more supportive of each other in the workplace. Some feel more confident about expressing their feelings and more equipped to put forward their point of view in discussions with male colleagues. They are more willing to engage with the men, rather than simply reacting to men's critical comments.
The VBNK women’s empowerment meetings have also provided a space for exploring concepts of feminism and empowerment in the Cambodian context. Through this work we have embraced an understanding of women’s equality and women’s rights in which women maintain a valued role within the family. These insights have been translated into our work with clients.

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