Tonle Sap: Lady of the Lake (#41)


A Cambodian woman paddling a boat with two children in tow. One of my favourite images caught on camera during my boat ride across Tonle Sap Lake.

The life of a Khmer woman is in constant motion. Her role is manifold. She is a wife, mother, home-maker, breadwinner, co-worker, labourer, trader and businesswoman. She is expected to work for a living, yet attend to all household tasks. Her day begins at about 5:00am or 5:30am where she does the laundry, cleans the house and finishes other chores before going to work. In the late morning, she does the shopping on her way home, cooks the mid-day meal, returns to work in the afternoon, cooks the evening meal and performs other housework before retiring for the day.

In many families, women are the only wage earners. The female children usually end up taking on the household chores at the expense of education. Amazingly, the success of Khmer women in business has meant that in many families, the woman brings home more income than her husband. Many men (even those with government jobs) live on their wife’s income derived from some form of market selling.