Education is not only a means to a better future, but a beacon of hope that can transform lives, communities, and even entire countries. However, for numerous women and girls residing in rural Cambodia who dream of pursuing a career in law, this hope has been out of reach because of systemic barriers. That is until 2008, when CLEW (Cambodian Legal Education for Women), a registered Canadian charity, stepped in.
CLEW sees the potential in every young woman from poor rural villages, regardless of their background, and pushes for their advancement in education, specifically post-secondary legal education at the Royal University of Law & Economics (RULE) in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. CLEW takes care of the students’ financial needs— including tuition, living expenses, accommodation, books, English lessons, bikes, and medical expenses. With this support, these young women are given the opportunity to escape the cycle of poverty and improve women’s rights in Cambodia.
With over 90 students enrolled in the program and over 50 having graduated, it is clear that CLEW is a force to be reckoned with. 98% of its graduates are employed and supporting their families, and as of 2019, over 5 graduates have been admitted to the Cambodian bar association. This is a testament to the power of education and the immense potential of women. However, CLEW’s impact goes beyond these numbers and serves as a powerful reminder that if we unite to dismantle the systemic barriers that hinder growth, women can be outstanding leaders in their communities, no matter their background..
Elizabeth Bennett-Martin, President of CLEW and Ruth Gastle, Vice President, work tirelessly to support their mission. Their dedication and generosity has allowed over 70 students to graduate so far, with more students set to follow in their footsteps. CLEW is proof that when we come together, we can make a difference. Let us celebrate CLEW and its mission to empower young women in Cambodia. Let us celebrate the potential of these young women and the power of education. Let us celebrate the fact that we can make a difference, one student at a time.
Watch this video to learn more about CLEW.