Khmer Women

The Khmer woman possesses a beauty unrivaled in all facets of her being: mind, body and soul. She is endowed with a mental and physical fortitude matched by an endearing warmth and kindness that seem to know no bounds, at least that is, in my experience. With strong traditional roots, Khmer culture is in a slow but progressive state with the ever evolving and dynamic roles of women playing a vital part in the country's social and even now political development. This unique culture continually adapts and redefines itself as part of a rapidly changing global populace.

This cultural adaptation and change however, is not without obstacles as women endeavor to achieve more independence in what has become generally accepted as a traditionally and historically, male dominated society. A look back in history reveals that this has not always been the case as historical author and scholar Trude Jacobsen describes:

As Cambodian women today negotiate for empowerment in a society that has conflicting constructions of societal norms and gender roles, there is an urgent need for a comprehensive history that recounts the ways that Cambodian women have wielded power in the past.....Most Cambodians have little idea of gender relations prior to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, believing that male pre-eminence has always been a facet of Cambodian society. In reality, it seems that there have always been greater differences between social classes than between men and women within those classes. *

These portraits begin to explore the distinct and contrasting positions of women throughout The Kingdom of Cambodia. From the impoverished to Heads of State, the series also underscores the vast divide in traditional and popular Khmer culture today. The photographs not only document an already proud and prominent female heritage but observe one that is developing and beginning to transcend the bounds of repressive stereotypes. We now see many Cambodian women striving to become leaders in industry, politics, business, entertainment and quite crucially in the nurturing and shaping of todays young Khmer.

* Lost Goddesses - The denial of female power in Cambodian History, Author - Trudy Jacobsen