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Social Transformation through Women's Education

Registered Date September 07, 2015 Read 2477
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My name is Koeurn Chhoeurt and I am 23 years old. I graduated from the Royal University of Phnom Penh on 12 June 2015, majoring in Physics. I am originally from Siem Reap province, which is a famous province in Cambodia. I am a second daughter of a big family with seven members: one older sister, two younger brothers, an old grandmother, and parents. My father is 48 years old; he is a solider and a farmer. My mother is 47 years old; she is a farmer and housewife. My older sister is 25 years old. She graduated from high school, but she was not able to pursue her Bachelor at university because my parents could not support her studying. She needed to find a job to support the entire family. She now works at the Siem Reap International Airport. My two younger brothers, who are 18 and 16, are students in high school. I graduated from my high school in July 2011.

In September, I moved to Phnom Penh to pursue my Bachelor in the university. Although my family cannot financially support my studying, I could attend university because I got a scholarship from a foundation. It is called the Harpswell Foundation and leadership center for Women University. Their mission is to empower the young women in Cambodia to become leaders. The Harpswell Foundation is a kind of women dormitory that provides me food, housing and variety of classes. If there was not this dormitory, I could not pursue my bachelor degree, and I could not stayed in Phnom Penh because it is not easy for a girl to stay alone in the City without any relative.

This is a  stereotype for being Khmer traditional women. Khmer women are supposed to be modest, soft-spoken, "light" walkers, well-mannered, industrious, belong to the household, and act as the family's caregivers and caretakers and financial controllers. In the past, women in Cambodia were rarely allowed to study because the elderly people were afraid that they would have written love letters or had voices against the men if they got the higher education.  In recent years, things have changed, the girls are able to obtain education, but only some girls in rural areas can get the high degree. I am very lucky having a chance to get the education. As I moved to Phnom Penh and attended variety of classes in my school, I have realized that the life as an educated woman is completely different from the life of my peers who cannot get chances for higher education. I have been given more opportunities to explore my country and the world; I have also gotten many chances to know more about my society, mainly political issues. Thus, I can make a decision and solve problems properly based on what I learned and realized from my studies. According to my culture norm, making decisions are most likely men`s roles. Therefore, it is not easy for women to propose ideas challenging the status quo. Since I attended my university, I have noticed that male classmates seemed ignoring the female students who have little knowledge. After seeing that, my friends and I have changed their stereotypes on women. We showed our abilities during classes, and earned higher scores than men in every test. Moreover, my friends and I always shared our ideas and learned from mistakes. We never stopped studying and learning new things. 

On the other hand, being an educated woman enables me to obtain my rights as a woman and consider what is right and wrong. For example, I avoided getting married at a younger age and have become brave enough to travel to other places and works.  With the education I have received, society can achieve gender equality properly, especially in welfare. Moreover, I recognized that the educated women’s roles in the society are very important. They have their own rights to promote peace and stop violence against women and children. The countries with a majority of educated women are able to boost the social transformation because women are one of the factors to develop countries through their knowledge. Therefore the education for women and girls are very vital.

Being a Scranton`s scholar means a lot to me as I successfully graduated from my bachelor degree because Scranton provided me with tuition. After I got the support from Scranton, my family could extend their capacity to support younger brother’s education.  Scranton scholarship not only has helped me, but it also has supported my whole family. Moreover, Because of Scranton scholarship, I have known new friends and other Scranton’s scholars from Asian countries. My dream is to pursue my Master degree in Physics in South Korea. I am glad that my dream is coming true and I am very thankful for the support of the Scranton Women Leadership Center.

I believe that I am on the way to reach my goal and I have an ambitious vision to a make change in my community, society, country and the entire world. After I earn my master degree, I want to work in a University as a Physics lecturer because I know that education is the weapon to develop a country and its human resource. I will share my knowledge in natural sciences and my leadership to the next generations in my country, Cambodia. Moreover, I want to be a founder of an organization that provides education and food for homeless children as to give them better lives. Then, my success is not only mine but a valuable resource to my community and my country.

Photo Credit:
Photo #3: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/provide-384-women-and-girls-education-in-cambodia/updates/?subid=21787