Vientiane, Lao PDR, 17th Mar 2011 - 17th Mar 2011
Q: What does Sida hope to achieve in the Lower Mekong Basin by promoting gender mainstreaming?
A: The over all objective for Sweden’s international development cooperation (Sida) is to promote gender equality, greater influence for women and greater respect for women’s rights in developing countries. For our cooperation with the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB), this translates into support that leads towards women and men’s equal access and resource control, while making a sustained livelihood and dignified life possible. Conventional policy and planning processes relating to the use of natural resources are often grounded in technical approaches. However, an increased focus on the inter-linkages between the environment and the use of natural resources by both women and men expands the scope of attention. When people - as both the producers and consumers of a resource- are brought into the discussions, there is a greater potential to introduce gender equality considerations.
Q: In Sida’s opinion, what are the primary challenges for gender mainstreaming in LMB region?
A: An understanding of a river basin is incomplete without a clear perspective on the differences and inequalities between and among women and men – their priorities, activities, resources, and access to decision-making. The transboundary dimension adds to that challenge. This understanding is a crucial challenge for everybody involved in development in the LMB. Investing in girls’ education may well be the highest return investment available in the developing world according to the World Bank.
Q: How is the MRC an important player in addressing these challenges?
A: The MRC supports and works towards improved communication between decision makers, scientists, managers and resource users by collecting and sharing key information on women’s and men’s access, use and control over water related resources. The MRC is also able to promote the involvement of women and men at all levels of society in planning and policy exercises related to sharing water resources. The MRC can also aim to serve as a role model by demonstrating gender mainstreaming within its own organisation. Is there a balance in number of female and male staff at all levels? Are they treated equally? Are the professional capacities and experiences of women and men equally recognised?
Q: Five years from now, what role would Sida like to see women play in water resources management in the LMB?
A: We would like to see that women are recognised as central to the provision, management and safeguarding of water resources. As providers of household needs, women are not only on the front lines of water resources management but also the new challenge of climate change, and experience its impact most immediately. As farmers, entrepreneurs, managers of household resources, scientists and activists, women are also positioned to drive positive change and contribute to a regional response. Sida would like to see this recognized more and reflected in local, national and regional approaches to planning.