Vietnamese Women and Cambodian Women – Maintaining and Promoting the Traditional Relationship

With similarities in history and geography, Vietnamese and Cambodian women have had a long standing history of friendly cooperation, particularly since 1979, when the Cambodian Women for Peace and Development organization was established (previously the Cambodia Women’s Union).

In the 1980s and 1990s, the two countries began to promote many activities such as exchanging information, visiting each other, and attending the National Congress by the other organization. The VWU has welcomed a number of high-level delegates from Cambodian Women for Peace and Development to visit and work in Vietnam. The 2000s marked a new development in the relationship between the two countries, with the signing of a Cooperation Agreement for the 2004-2006 and 2009-2012 periods, when President Ha Thi Khiet (2004) and President Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa (2009) visited Cambodia.

To implement the signed cooperation agreements, the two organizations have been involved in the following activities: enhancing the exchange of information and experiences, educating women and communities to maintain and develop friendly relations and traditional cooperation between the two countries, directing lower level women’s unions, especially in provinces near the border area, to strengthen communication, strengthening solidarity, assisting in the development and implementation of agreements between the two countries, cooperating in tourism, organizing seminars collectively, cooperating in regional and international forums, and exchanging delegation visits.

Under the direction of the two organizations, cooperation between women at the provincial level in the two countries is happening enthusiastically in various ways, such as: exchanging visits, sharing experiences in mutual areas of interest, organizing conferences, workshops and seminars, developing campaigns, promoting, educating, and raising awareness about maintaining order and increasing border area security for women and the community, searching for the remains of Vietnamese volunteer soldiers, and so o­n. Women’s Unions in the provinces bordering Cambodia have been organizing and attending many activities assisting Cambodian women and communities, and Vietnamese women overseas, Some provinces and cities along the border area have signed a Cooperation Agreement and have encouraged districts and communes to sign a similar agreement.For example: Tay Ninh province with Svay Riêng and Kompongcham province (2007-2010; 2011-2016); Kien Giang province with Kép and Kampot province (2006-2010; 2010-2015), Dong Thap province and Prey Veng province (2007-2011), An Giang province and Kandal province (2007-2011), Long An province and Svey Rieng province (2012-2016).

In recent years, cooperation activities have been increasingly strengthened and promoted, particularly in the areas of tourism and education. The Peace Tour company, operating under the VWU, has helped develop the MBS tourism company operating under Cambodian Women for Peace and Development, through sharing experiences, providing human resource training, and providing the necessary equipment. In the area of education, the VWU has supported Cambodian Women for Peace and Development by facilitating eight training and practical experience courses for 250 members, including female leaders of ministries, agencies and departments, and Cambodian women’s unions at the provincial, city, and commune levels, in 2011 and 2012.

2012 signifies an important year for the two countries, as it is the 45th celebration of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Cambodia and it has been chosen as “the Year of Friendship between Vietnam and Cambodia”. In response to this event, in addition to exchanging congratulations and delegation visits and promoting the traditional relationship between the two countries and their women in particular, o­n August 24th, 2012, the VWU, in collaboration with Cambodian Women for Peace and Development, held the “Promoting Friendship and Cooperation between Vietnamese and Cambodian Women” conference in Ho Chi Minh City. The conference was attended by nearly 90 representatives from ministries, agencies, and the central and provincial women’s unions of the two countries. The conference focused o­n evaluating the implementation of the Cooperation Agreement for the 2009-2012 period at both the central and provincial levels, and recommended solutions to strengthen cooperation between the two parties. Representatives also discussed the content of the Cooperation Agreement for the upcoming 2012-2017 period, which will be signed soon. The conference was momentous as it marked the first time the two organizations held a large-scale event together with participation from the central and provincial unions of both parties. It provided an excellent opportunity for women of Vietnam and Cambodia to meet, communicate, and enhance solidarity, mutual knowledge, and cooperation.

Based o­n this traditional relationship, the women of Vietnam and Cambodia will continue to strengthen cooperation in the future for the benefit of women and people in both countries, and will contribute to maintaining and developing the relationship of “good neighborliness, traditional friendship, comprehensive cooperation, and long-term sustainability".

(VWU International Relations Department)