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Women’s Network for Unity- WNU
WNU aims to empower sex workers through organising and mobilising and advocate for the right to work and livelihood under their slogan “sex work is work”.

The neo-liberalism capitalism structure given the most impacts on the poor, particularly women because through this system, social services are privatised, they have lost assets due to debt, and fall into poverty.  The unsafe migration women to work in unprotected or most exploited sector such as garment industry, sex work, and other entertainment establishment.
A lot of NGOs working in partnership with the government on sexual health and HIV with direct and indirect sex workers and anti trafficking programs but rarely focus on the promotion of sex worker’s human rights.  The continuation of Tier System of the US Anti Trafficking Department on Trafficking In Person (TIP Report) with the threat of aid sanction was the main reason pushing the Cambodian government enacted the Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation (LSHTSE) that prohibited activities associated with commercial sex acts or sex work, including soliciting and procurement.  This law has made their occupation and lives of sex workers become harder. 

In order to continue the growth and be resilient to external factors that may hinder this progress, the WNU have developed clear strategic visioning and planning to strengthen its structure and reputation.  WNU’s strength asset and legitimacy and partnership with United Sisterhood, therefore power lies in the fact that we are a social organisation (on the way to being a movement) that has elected representatives.  

Worker’s Information Center – WIC
WIC dedicates to build workers’ right consciousness, self-organising and self-empowering to advocate their right through the Drop-In-Centers (DICs) operation.  The DICs are strategically allocated in the garment workers’ compound where they can easily access to information, networking, building self confident and self-organising.  The regular activities such as sessions (on workers’ rights, labour law, garment industry, the impact of multi-fibre agreement phase out and related labour issues), small group discussions, and social events are conducted and facilitated by key organisers who are current and former workers. 

WIC work will not function as the unions but working as social women centre to build women’s knowledge, confidence and power. The centre is a major strategy that use by workers to discuss their daily challenges and mobilise the collective action as well as to strengthening their existing movement. In addition, it is a place where women can attach themselves to the society and spread out their issue at national, regional and international.       
The WIC’ three years strategy focus on building and strengthening a movement of garment workers to ensure real and legitimate and accountable representatives and leadership responding to worker’s needs. In order to achieve this workers have to feel enabled and engaged via WIC play important roles to facilitate the processes to ensuring the space creation.

The Messenger Band – MB
MB was established by audition among garment workers and used social research for raising awareness and advocacy through performances, cultural, arts and songs.  The band is a great supplementary educational and advocacy tools to support “Us” and people’s movements.  

MB collects oral histories and contemporary stories from farmers, sex workers, garment workers and landless people and use the content of their narratives as lyrics to their songs.  Over the years the band have expanded on the songs and use multi-media and Karaoke to popularise their political songs.  An important milestone for the Band has been the growth of their profile and the breadth and distribution of their songs, this includes radio and television.  MB has a forum and space that many others have no access to. 

The band will concentrate their efforts to support the mobilisation, organising and advocacy of the other members of the United Sisterhood.  MB has been able to draw crowds and inspire people to mobilise and understand that their suffering and their demands are not unique.  It also will be to provide training and mentoring to members of the United Sisterhood to encourage more cultural performance as a medium of expression and raising voices of dissent. 

Social Action for Change – SAC
SAC is a group of women activists, aims to support workers’ empowerment and labour rights, especially actively expanding its roles to support and advocate with the grass-roots movements.

Several economic concession policies, and legal and services reforms came out of donor conditions, and have resulted in negative impacts on the livelihoods of the poor, especially women and children. These reforms were promoted by donors and creditors as “development” and include the introduction of good governance programmes by the World Bank and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to monitor the implementation of government projects.  As a result, the government in 2011 adopted a new sub-decree that identifies two national hospitals be Public Administration Enterprises in efforts to promote so-called autonomy to reform the healthcare system. 

The economy and the livelihood of more than 80% of the population today still depend on subsistent agriculture as the main activity. The government promoted the agro-business and continue to provide the economic land concession to the companies.  Several laws and policies such as the Sub decree on Contract Farming and Law on Cooperative and Agriculture have enacted to protect the investment as well and giving less protection to local farmers. 

Under the development there has seen the increased and widened gap between the rich and poor in urban and rural areas. Inequality between men and women is still a major problem and women continue to suffer not only from violence, but also economic and gender based discrimination in society like in the garment and sex industry.  Many Cambodians has raised questions about who this development is for, and whether the poor really benefit from these reforms and development trends.  Therefore SAC works in partnership with United Sisterhood to strengthening organising, leadership and advocacy via Health-Debt Campaign is led as cross cutting activity for social and political movements.

 

Copyright by United Siterhood Aliance, Cambodia. © 2013