Meet this Freedom Bearer: Kanary on Motherhood

May 5, 2021

Kanary is the Founder and Director of Cambodian Women's Support Group (CWSG)––a social business creating job opportunities for women through pattern making, sewing, embroidery, and handicraft production.

In 2015, Kanary was approached by 17 women who lost their jobs at a sewing center in Phnom Penh. After months of settling for laborious cleaning jobs, they needed decent work that would support their children’s education. Kanary was empathetic because she knew their stories. They were trapped in poverty––lacking economic security. Some were single mothers, while others were married to abusive husbands or battling with physical ailments. All of this made them highly vulnerable to human trafficking.

Kanary’s encounter with those women inspired the birth of Cambodian Women’s Support Group (CWSG). Through networking and training at Nomi International Fashion Training School (NIFT), Kanary has expanded her business, which has allowed her to provide safe, sustainable jobs for marginalized women in her community. As a result, they can provide better futures for their children!

Kanary’s teenage daughter, Katherine is already following in her mother’s footsteps as she is a dedicated volunteer at CWSG! In honor of Mother’s Day, we interviewed Kanary to learn what motherhood and intergenerational economic empowerment mean to her!

Kanary and a Cambodian Women's Support Group Member

What does motherhood mean to you?

To me, motherhood means to love––with unconditional and selfless love. While I’ve had my ups and downs, nothing goes before the needs of my daughter. I want my daughter to be able to open up to me and talk to me like her friend, not just her mother. I always encourage my daughter to be an independent thinker, and I want her to feel confident enough to make and stand by her own decisions. She’s the greatest love I have ever felt and the very best part of me.

A few years back, you started Cambodian Women’s Support Group (CWSG) to provide ethical sewing jobs for marginalized women in Phnom Penh. How has the income empowered these women economically?

Most of our CWSG members have other primary jobs as cleaners or cake sellers on the street. This is done to support all of their essential needs such as food, healthcare, education, and rent. However, we have some women who solely rely on their orders from CWSG for income. I believe CWSG members gain a new sense of confidence and stability through the work and salary they receive.

How has the income helped them invest in their children’s futures?

The incomes that our CWSG members receive allows them to purchase school materials for their young children. When it comes to those who have children in university, I’m still unsure if they can support their children, but I hope that the business can help fund their children’s college tuitions as well.

Kanary and her daughter Katherine

Your daughter, Catherine, has attended our training courses as well, and she also has a passion for social impact. How does that make you feel?

I am the proudest mother. Katherine is a caring woman with a big heart that inspires her to help those who are struggling. She also works as a CWSG handicraft volunteer during her free time to help the members and buyers design new products. All I’ve ever wanted for my daughter is for her to be a good person that treats people with respect and kindness no matter who they are.

How would you like to see her empowering future generations of women?

I hope my daughter lives a happy life, more than anything. I don’t want her to get preoccupied with superficial things in life like wealth and validation from others. I’d love to see her work as a professional in the field of her choice or operate/manage a social business to help the children at risk of human trafficking in Cambodia. 

Do you want to walk alongside a mother or sister as she unlocks economic freedom for herself and future generations?

This Mother’s Day, give freedom to women like the one who Kanary supports at CWSG!

Your gift will help thousands of women and girls receive Workforce Development training and financial literacy skills needed to create a better future and an empowered community!

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