Prior to her remarks on the importance of rights for women and workers at the Lower Mekong Initiative Women’s Gender Equality and Empowerment Dialogue on Friday, July 13, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer, U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia William Todd, Special Representative for International Labor Affairs Barbara Shailor, and Ambassador at Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Luis CdeBaca at a roundtable with Cambodian women workers. At the roundtable, the women workers described how they have fought for better conditions in Cambodia’s garment, hotel, and casino industries, organized and advocated for safer work for Cambodia’s “beer girls” and tuk-tuk drivers, and pressed for reform to Cambodia’s trade union and labor laws. The women have made inspiring contributions; for example, two former migrants who faced abusive conditions as domestic workers abroad now educate other Cambodian women about the rights and risks of migration.
The roundtable gave working women a chance to interact directly with senior U.S. officials, and underscored the links between the protection of individual rights and the promotion of fairer, more inclusive societies capable of fostering broadly shared prosperity.