The SWDC was registered with the Cambodian Ministry of Interior (1258SCN) in 2001. It began as an AIDS hospice caring for soldiers, sex workers and police officers who were infected by HIV and suffering other related illnesses. One year on it shifted its focus onto AIDS prevention among young healthy women. It offered health education and literacy in effort to reduce the spread of AIDS amongst the Stung Treng population.
The SWDC continued to evolve to providing education and alternate employment opportunities for local women in order to provide substitute income options to harmful occupations such as prostitution. Currently it provides social welfare programs for the community including nutrition support projects, sponsorship for poor students attending public school, on-site nursery and pre-school provision for working parents, Sericulture training (funded by the Allen foundation), weaving and training programs, and a Child Development Centre for vulnerable children.
At any one time the SWDC provides employment for up to 100 women weavers. Their silk products are traded through Mekong Blue (www.mekongblue.com) all the profits of which are invested back into the aforementioned social projects. Their goal is for these community projects to become fully sustainable through the social enterprise. Also visit the Mekong Blue website to delve further into the fascinating history of the Stung Treng Womens Development Centre.
About the country:
Cambodias HDI value has increased 59.9% from 0.364 in 1990 to 0.582 in 2017; placing it at 146 out of 189 countries and territories and in the medium development category (UNDP, 2018). Cambodias mean years of schooling has increased by 2.1 years to 4.8 however the GDI (Gender Development Index) for Cambodia reveals large gender disparities for this indicator. The mean years of schooling for males is 5.6 years whereas for women is 3.8.
The majority of the Stung Treng population relies upon rainfed agriculture for income and subsistence. Without the sufficient education or viable alternative employment opportunities, many continue to partake in environmentally damaging activities (e.g. illegal fishing) to earn an income.