Despite the fact women and men have equal rights under the law in Cambodia, in reality; many women continue to face significant challenges. For example, in rural areas many females drop out of school early to undertake domestic work as well as other work to contribute to their families’ income. Less than 50% of females attend primary school. This puts them at a distinct disadvantage to their male counterparts, where they lack employment opportunities and leadership roles in society. However, one 53-years-old lady has overcome many of these difficulties to become an important person contributing to the development of Cambodia. 

Born in 1960, Arbitrator Kim Sean was a successful student who studied very hard to brighten her future. After finishing high school she then started working for the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) in 1990 and for the Cambodian National Election in 1993. Because of her exemplary performance in her work, Arbitrator Kim Sean landed a job at International Organization called The Asia Foundation (TAF) and at the same time received financial support from the organization to study Laws from the National Institute of Management, Cambodia and the Royal University of Law and Economics. Throughout her university studies, she was an exceptional student. With her academic achievements, commitment and diligence, Arbitrator Kim Sean was also rewarded scholarships to study and obtain: a Master of International Laws and Economics from the World Trade Institute, Switzerland; a Research Program Certificate from the University of Michigan Law School, USA; and 1999 from the University of San Francisco, USA.

Arbitrator Kim Sean has remained motivated and demonstrated a strong commitment in order to achieve her goals. Arbitrator Kim Sean said that it was not an easy task to complete her study successfully since she faced many issues during that time. However, she always felt optimistic about that.  

Among the challenges she faced, Arbitrator Kim Sean recognises that study abroad was the hardest experience. Indeed, it involved an enormous amount of hard work, particularly at the start. She needed to settle into a new environment in term of living, eating and culture. In addition, she had to be very economical so that she could continue to support her two children in Cambodia.

Despite of these difficulties, she always encouraged herself to work hard and never gave up reminding herself that only few people can have the great opportunity to study abroad. Besides this, she wanted to be a good ambassador for Cambodia and for her family and was mindful of, not letting down those who offered her the scholarship.

Prior to obtaining a master degree in international law and economics, Arbitrator Kim Sean, worked various jobs including: Program Officer at The Asia Foundation (human rights issues); Legal Instructor at the University of San Francisco/Community Legal Education Center; Legal Assistant of the Legal Center for Research Documentation; and Program Officer of the Human Rights Task Force in Cambodia.

After finishing her master degree from Switzerland, Arbitrator Kim Sean worked on various jobs such as Senior Grants Manager at the East-West Management Institute (EWMI) (human rights and rule of law issues), and later was promoted to be  Grants Coordinator at the East-West Management Institute (EWMI) (human rights and rule of law issues).

With her great educational background and work experience in field of law and international law for many years, Arbitrator Kim Sean was appointed by a Prakas of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training as a member of the Arbitration Council (AC) on the employee list when it was established in 2003.

“I am so proud to be an arbitrator with the AC because I can contribute in seeking justice for employees and employers, as well as society as a whole,” she said.

Since its inception in 2003, the AC has been recongised as an important justice platform for resolving labour dispute for management and workers in Cambodia. This is because all the AC arbitrators are independent They issued the awards based on the Labour Law, international standards and principles of equity.

“Independence and transparency are assets that instills trust and confidence in the parties,” she said, adding that “this is not just important for the AC, but also for the professionalism of the arbitrators”

Besides working as arbitrator at the AC, Arbitrator Kim Sean is the Bar Liaison and Legal Aid Grants Coordinator at the East-West Management Institute (EWMI), a lawyer and a commercial arbitrator of the National Arbitration Center (NAC). She is also a member of the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators (SIArb). She said that her accomplishments can be attributed to her integrity work, professionalism and perseverance to which she herself calls “the secret of success.”