HA NOI – Promoting gender equality through the design and implementation of transport projects was on the agenda at a meeting of transport officials from Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos being held today in Ha Noi.
This was according to a news release from the Asian Development Bank and AusAid, the joint organisers of the three-day Mekong Gender and Transport Workshop.
The statement said the workshop aimed to raise awareness about how transport projects could empower women by expanding access to services, income and employment opportunities, and social interaction.
About 60 participants from across the Mekong sub-region were to take part in the workshop along with ADB and AusAID staff. They were to exchange practical knowledge on how gender had been successfully addressed in projects, share experiences of ensuring transport systems were inclusive and accessible for all people, and discuss gender issues in different modes of transport and how to overcome challenges.
ADB deputy country director for Viet Nam Andrew Head said too often transport projects were assumed to be gender neutral. Proactive steps needed to be taken to ensure projects responded to womens different mobility needs as transport users, and their priorities must be heard in transport sector planning and policy.
Michael Wilson, AusAIDs Mekong and regional counsellor, said that from the way land acquisition was undertaken through to the changes in economic activity – loss of livelihoods and new livelihood opportunities – that resulted from transport projects, the interests of women must be front and centre if negative impacts on communities were to be minimised and new opportunities maximised.
ADBs long-term strategic framework placed gender equity as one of five drivers of change to achieve an Asia and Pacific region free of poverty, the statement said. Promoting gender equality also was a critical objective for the Australian aid programme.
"Empowering women to participate in the economy, leadership, and education mobilised the critical untapped potential of women in the development process.
"Support for the transport sector development was an important priority for both ADB and AusAID in the Mekong sub-region." – VNS