Young Cambodians engage in civic life

Swedish ambassador in the field
SWEDISH AMBASSADOR TO CAMBODIA, LEFT, CHATS WITH LOY9 DRAMA PRODUCER CHHIN SOTHEA, RIGHT, DURING HER FIELD TRIP TO SEE THE CREW WORK. (PHOTO: UNDP CAMBODIA)

Swedish Ambassador Anne Höglund recently had a close-up look at the production of Loy9 programme’s TV magazine by visiting the filming crew on site on the outskirt of Phnom Penh capital. The crew was made up mostly of young men and women who are trying to send a message that they too can help make a difference in the community life.

“This is a good way to spread information,” said Mrs. Höglund whose country has provided financial support for the programme.

Highlights

  • 33 percent of the total Cambodian population are youth between age 15 and 30 and more than 64 percent under the age 30

“It is important for young people to engage in social life and in the future of their country,” said the ambassador while observing the film crew busy on set inside a commune office on 28 May.

From a make-shift control room inside a commune office, 27-year-old Chhin Sothea, a fresh university graduate, was directing the filming of a scene. In it, young men are meeting with commune officials to seek their support to form a local football team. But the larger idea behind the attempt to create a football team was to promote a platform for dialogue between commune councils and young people.

“That’s because in everyday life, many young people do not know what the role of the commune council is. So once they watch this episode, young people can understand that when they have any idea or plan for development they can raise it with commune chief to get support,” Sothea explained.

Inspiring greater civic engagement by young people is at the heart of Loy9 programme, a multimedia campaign implemented by BBC Media Action with support from the Swedish government and UNDP. It began in 2011 following a UNDP-sponsored study which showed that many young Cambodians lacked knowledge and understanding about the working of the country’s democratic process and institutions.

They had difficulties expressing their ideas and concerns, and some did not even know about the roles of commune councils.

TV magazine is just one of several ways being used to raise awareness about importance of civic engagement – and to change view about gender as well.

Student Pitthy Vanniva acted in the TV episode the role of a village girl who plays football – a sport deemed exclusive to men while women are generally regarded only as home makers. But the girl wants to overcome the stereotype.

“We should not be only confined to the role of cooking for the family all the time. No. We can play football too,” Ms. Vanniva said. “Women can enjoy the same rights as men do.”