Do policy makers understand the economic and social issues affecting low-income women in four Mekong countries? (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam)
Summary of publication
Do policy makers understand the economic and social issues affecting low-income women in four Mekong countries? (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam) is an Australian Development Research Awards Scheme (ADRAS) research project which was awarded in the last ADRAS round in 2012. The research was carried out by the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) from April 2013 – December 2016. The objective of the project was:
- to contribute new knowledge and understanding to the meaning, achievement and sustainability of economic 'empowerment' and 'security' for low-income women in four Mekong countries with diverse gender dynamics and institutional structures
- to contribute to better policies and project design and implementation for women's empowerment and security/social protection
- to help with gender researchers' capacity-building in the four countries, and
- to communicate research findings and engage in ongoing discussions with policymakers, defined as government, non-government, academic, international organization and other types of groups who influence policy in substantial ways.
Research findings include that empowerment in the four countries is strongly understood as a collective goal, suggesting that one is empowered when others who are cared for are also empowered in the process. This suggests development activities should be designed in a way that not only foster autonomy and independence for women, but also take into account others who benefit from empowered women. Findings also include that empowerment is difficult to achieve without men's active involvement and that empowerment projects must focus on sustainability, including by providing the right skills and knowledge, by creating leadership, and ensuring market accessibility and demand for products in income generation activities. The findings of this research have been disseminated in various policy fora across the four Mekong countries and continues to be subject of discussion among relevant stakeholders and policy makers.