Working Paper

A Discussion on the Role of Buddhism in Contemporary Cambodian Gender Roles

This paper discusses how the current practice of Buddhism shapes the concept of womanhood in contemporary Cambodian society. Interviews are used as the primary research method employed to understand this question. Specifically, three women are interviewed across three generations to gain insight on their perception between the practice of Buddhism and female roles in society. Additional methods include the use of field observations at Pagoda’s within Phnom Penh, and the content analysis of online preaching materials. Primarily, this paper finds that female (and male) roles continue to be shaped by the current teaching and practice of Buddhism. Characteristics such as softness and subordination continue to remain prevalent within the self-identified perceptions of the females interviewed. Considering these findings as a baseline for continued study, further research is needed to understand the particular features of Buddhist practice that influence contemporary Cambodian ideals.

About the Author

Placeholder Headshot.png
CHIN Leabphea

Leabphea holds a bachelor degree in international relations from the Institute of Foreign Languages. She joined Cambodian Rehabilitation and Development Board of Council for the Development of Cambodia (CRDB/CDC) in 2020 as a policy officer in charge of national policy. Prior to CRDB/CDC, she was a part of Young Research Fellows 2019 at Future Forum and an intern of the Education Unit at Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI). During her time at Future Forum, she had developed her research interest in gender equality and done her research on “A Discussion on the Role of Buddhism in Contemporary Cambodian Gender Roles”. The paper discusses how the current practice of Buddhism shapes the concept of womanhood in contemporary Cambodian society.