COVID-19 response for women and girls in Cambodia

Website / Documentation
Short description

WRC empowers women and girls to be educated, respected and able to make decisions about their lives.


MISSION: Women’s Resource Center provides women and girls in Cambodia with emotional support, referral services, and informal education so they can be empowered to make informed decisions about their lives.
VISION: We envision Cambodia to be a fair and safe society with equal rights for all. Women and girls will be empowered, educated, respected and able to make decisions about their lives.
VALUES: Women’s empowerment and gender equality: Women play an integral role in shaping the future, we facilitate women’s ability to reach their full potential.
Fairness and respect: WRC believe that all human beings should be treated fairly regardless of their background, education or gender.
Partnership and collaboration: We partner with organizations and collaborate with women to encourage their participation in WRC’s service provision.
Ethics and accountability: WRC clients are always put first. WRC operates openly, honestly and transparently.

The Cambodian economy is hugely reliant on tourism – especially in Siem Reap (home of Angkor Wat Temple complex) where we are based. In late January, mid high season, tourists began to cancel or cut short their trips and many people lost their jobs. In March schools, gyms, karaoke bars, restaurants and hotels closed – some due to government lock down guidelines, some due to lack of customers. Many of these businesses are hoping to reopen, but a huge percentage will close permanently. Many people are now unemployed and do not know when they will work again. Children who work in the city and usually send a percentage of their income home to support the wider family are now unemployed, have returned home and are reliant on their families – creating a double blow of their loss of income and reliance. COVID numbers in Cambodia have been relatively low – however the economic impact has been huge.

We have been working closely with our community to better understand their current needs and see how we can support them deeply at this time. We have surveyed 100 families and understand that 99% of them are living in fear of both contracting COVID19 and hunger. The main issues are lack of employment, poverty, hunger, understanding hygiene and how to prevent COVID19 spreading – and being able to afford hygiene supplies. Many are also suffering from acute stress and mental health issues. In addition, due to the extra pressures at home (especially with schools closed) there is a rise in domestic abuse towards women and children.
We have conducted counselling over the phone with 72 beneficiaries and checked in with 107 families to see if they need anything from us. We have been able to meet some people face to face to give out emergency supplies (rice, canned goods, cooking sauces, hygiene supplies) and have used these opportunities to share information on safe practices to prevent the spread of the virus. These sessions have had limited numbers with people staying 2 metres apart, we have checked temperatures and ensured hand washing and mask wearing has taken place. We have given out 115 emergency supply packages to families and shared information on staying safe at the current time with them. We are also piloting ways to work with families in order for them to be self-sufficient including farming – plants and animals. In addition, it is key to note that crisis such as the COVID19 pandemic disproportionately affect women and girls and can set back gains on gender equality. This is due to gender norms and pre-existing inequalities. Many women are employed in the informal sector in Cambodia, which means they are unable to claim sick pay and have few (if any) protections from job losses. The closure of schools also means that the burden of unpaid care responsibilities and home schooling usually falls to the women in the family. In addition, girls and women tend to have more limited access to the internet – which impinges on distance learning. We also see that Gender Based Violence and Domestic Violence (which usually affect women and children more) rise with increased tension and food / economic security worries. There is also an increased risk of sexual exploitation or abuse for those in precarious situations, plus an increased risk of women’s sexual and reproductive health rights being compromised as people are unable to access certain services. As women tend to be the careers in the family their risk of contracting COVID19 is higher. In addition, the State of Emergency called in Cambodia could impact on movement and freedom of speech. Finally, food security could also be an issue with women more likely to suffer. All these issues may affect the women and families we work with and set back our mission.

Target country


Project type

  • Community
  • Education
  • Human rights
  • Other
  • Wellbeing

Support needed

  • Other
  • Raising capital

What we need help with

Since COVID19 hit in January the funding landscape has changed hugely. Some of our funders have been kind and offered us the opportunity to apply to repurpose funds and use them as needed at this time and we are currently waiting for their response. Other funders have made additional funding available, which we are applying for (but are not guaranteed to receive). Many donors have now shifted their focus to support COVID related emergencies or COVID research, or are choosing not to take on new partners at this time. This means that those donors we were planning to apply to may no longer be an option and we have had to make changes to our fundraising strategy, seek new funds, update applications, work with donors on repurposing funding or applying for emergency funding for food, hygiene supplies and to enable the team to work with our beneficiaries over the phone and online. We have cancelled 4 fundraising events for 2020, and ran one on a small scale that underperformed due to COVID – raising barely anything. We predict to have lost between $5,000-10,000k in event income in 2020. Our Emergency Campaign has raised around $3,000 – however these funds are needed in addition as they will be used for emergency supplies. Some of our current donors will allow us to repurpose funds and others may grant some additional support – we have not yet had this confirmed though. As such, WRC seeks new fundraising sources to continue to provide services in the new COVID landscape.

Best way to get in touch

Email with the Donor Relations Manager at

Project status

  • Launched