Sooke Mayor Maja Tait is on her way to Cambodia as part of a program of Global Affairs Canada to share information and expertise between countries.
“I was invited to participate and it was such a unique opportunity that I felt very honoured to accept,” Tait said.
“We’ll be meeting with the National League of Cambodia and there will be some discussions on how to engage and empower women and youth in the region’s government.”
Tait said there is a systemic problem in retaining women in local politics, both in Cambodia and Canada, and the difficulty is
keeping women and youth engaged in governance over the long term.
“We’ll be discussing our shared experiences, exploring what sort of support would be helpful, and helping to build capacity for future relations,” Tait said.
The bulk of the time will be spent meeting with local officials in Mondo Kerie province where topics like the preparation and implementation of strategic plans within a community will also be discussed.
The experience is sure to be highlight just how fortunate Canadians are, Tait said.
“For example, I’ve been told that we are not to wander off the main roads at any time because the region is still littered with landmines left over from the Vietnam War and the Cambodian genocide carried out by the Khmer Rouge.”
More than 1.8 million people died in that genocide between 1975 and 1979 – about 24 percent of Cambodia’s population at the time.
Tait will be on site with a UBCM staffer and a member of Global Affair’s international staff and said that she’s looking forward to the shared experiences she’ll be able to take with her at the end of the trip.
The trip is financed by Global Affairs Canada.