GENDER & DIVERSITY

Gender and diversity

In social and economic systems, ‘gender’ references the relationship between men and women and articulates itself in ways that may yield very different livelihood conditions (roles, status, access to opportunities and resources). This outcome is the result of many variables, but which include in particular the greater power of one gender over the other; culture and history.

Gender is a sub-set of diversity. Diversity also includes different ethnic groups. Across the Greater Mekong, there are 333 officially recognised ethnic groups.

Gender and diversity are factored strongly in the management systems of rivers, and in the safeguards associated with their development.


 

Why do gender and diversity matter?

If a development initiative does not address half of a country’s population, then it is likely to fail. And yet, development initiatives commonly fail to address women’s interests in their implementation, and regularly (if implicitly) address those of men.

But the problem can be much worse than this. Because women are generally the primary care-givers to children, interventions (however well-meant) that focus on men alone risk excluding not only women, but the children that they care for as well.

Ethnic diversity matters because ethnic minorities are frequently unable to enjoy the benefits of development and are marginalised from it. Development, in turn, can also serious affect the livelihoods of ethnic minorities, who, in many cases, are highly dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods. In a country like Laos, where 49% of the population are ethnic minority groups, their inclusion in development is necessary for the country as a whole.

The change we seek

Gender and diversity are factored strongly in the management systems of rivers, and in the safeguards associated with their development.

WLE, gender and diversity

WLE perceives gender and diversity as critical elements in how the benefits (and costs) of development are shared, yielding development outcomes that frequently privilege men and ethnic majorities. Its work shows that these inequalities can be exacerbated if development is implemented carelessly, and without serious consideration of developing and applying safeguards to reduce differences.