Oman

Tonight, Catch Sundance’s Favorite Filipino Feminist Docu ‘Motherland’

It’s heartbreaking but without the melodrama. It’s eye-opening and sometimes too real about poverty and ignorance, but without a dash of judgement. “I’m hoping that poverty doesn’t define them. I’m hoping that what defines them is being human, being a woman,” Ramona told us after the film screening.

by · Thursday, 23 November 2017 · Oman, Philippines

NA Chairwoman receives new UNDP Country Director for Vietnam

She appreciated the UN and UNDP’s assistance to Vietnam’s socio-economic development, especially in poverty reduction, HIV/AIDS fight, child care …

by · Wednesday, 8 November 2017 · Oman, Vietnam

NA Chairwoman receives new UNDP Country Director for Vietnam

She appreciated the UN and UNDP’s assistance to Vietnam’s socio-economic development, especially in poverty reduction, HIV/AIDS fight, child care …

by · Wednesday, 8 November 2017 · Oman, Vietnam

Woman offers free swimming lessons for children

A 59-year-old woman in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap is teaching hundreds of local children to swim for free despite being deep in poverty …

by · Thursday, 28 September 2017 · Oman, Vietnam
Hope for the future: Key to peace lies with the Filipino youth

Hope for the future: Key to peace lies with the Filipino youth

Women beneficiaries from Maguindanao, southern Philippines, with World Bank Country Director Mara Warwick. These women are participating in livelihood projects under the multi-donor Mindanao Trust Fund. Photo: Justine Letargo/World Bank

Peace – something that many of us take for granted in our own lives – is elusive for millions of people around the world, including in southern Philippines. Long-standing conflict between the government and rebel groups, and a complicated patchwork of clan and family conflicts, has led to decades of economic stagnation and poverty in one of the Philippines’ most beautiful and productive regions – Mindanao. A peace process is hopefully nearing its conclusion and is expected to bring autonomy and with it, greater opportunities for peace and development to the people of the Bangsamoro.

The Philippines is a middle-income country – with GDP at $2,953 per capita and a robust economy, with almost 96% enrollment rate in basic education, and improving health indicators such as child mortality; overall the country is doing well. But these numbers mask sharp regional contrasts: in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) the GDP per capita is only $576 – equivalent to countries like Rwanda and Afghanistan – the poverty rate is 53.7%, and more than 50% of its employed population are in agriculture with 80% of them working as subsistence farmers, living precariously from crop to crop.  One crop failure can mean ruin for a family.

Before coming to the Philippines to work, I had never worked in conflict-affected areas. There are many colleagues in the World Bank who specialize in this, who are passionate and dedicated, driven to work harder and longer to see positive outcomes for the communities their work supports, and it is not hard to see why. 

Visiting areas subject to conflict for decades is at once distressing and uplifting.  In the most conflict-ridden areas of Mindanao people are very poor – they live in crude nipa huts, most often do not have running water, sanitation or electricity, and the roads, where they exist, are not sealed, becoming quagmires on a rainy day. 

When fighting erupts as it all too often does, communities have to flee, sometimes becoming dislocated for years at a time. They farm low value crops – mostly corn and rice – because they cannot afford to plant anything else. They cannot invest in high-value crops like coconuts that take a while to mature for fear that they cannot stay for years in their communities.

And yet visiting these areas is also uplifting. Why?  Because these people have a pride, grace, resilience, and good humor that deeply impresses me. We are always greeted warmly and our conversations are infused with laughter.  They are endlessly fascinated with my height (tall) and my hair color (light).  We talk about our children and the things we enjoy doing. 

These are also amazingly practical people.  In one community supported under the Mindanao Trust Fund, the people’s committee set up to oversee the project comprised all women. When I asked the chairwoman of the committee why this was, she said (with a laugh) that the men in the village had asked the women to lead the project because the men thought that if they had been in the lead, there would have been too much arguing and not enough decision-making!

Mindanao is at a critical juncture. The ongoing conflict in Marawi shows how the situation is changing and new stresses, including the rise of extremism, present a real risk for many countries, including the Philippines.  

The solution is not easy, but a place to start is with the youth. Young people need hope for the future – education, a job, the right to their own self-identity and self-expression, and freedom from poverty. In my conversations with mothers in Mindanao, I hear echoes of my concerns about my own children. Are they healthy? Are they doing well at school? What will they be when they grow up? Our concerns are the same, but the foundation and stability on which we base our support for our children differs like night and day.

In one of the communities we visited in Maguindanao, we spoke with a group of young people who had just completed an Alternative Learning Course – a 5-month intensive literacy course for adults who either dropped out of school or were not able to attend when they were children. They had studied hard during their 5-month course – excited by the unexpected opportunities that could now be ahead of them. Although they had not yet even completed their final exams, 8 of the cohort of 50 had already been admitted to technical vocational training in a nearby town. And when I asked those with whom we met what they wanted to be, the young women were particularly vocal: “I want to be a midwife!”, “I want to be a teacher!”. And with the kind of grit and determination that these young women possess, I can only bet that they will be too.

by · Thursday, 21 September 2017 · Afghanistan, Oman, Philippines
Women play a part to bring peace in Solomon Islands

Women play a part to bring peace in Solomon Islands

Margaret Wete, first female Village Peace Warden in Makira Province, Solomon Islands。 Photo: Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening

In a hot and crowded school classroom in December 2015 I sat excitedly watching Margaret Wete accept her role as Village Peace Warden for Waimasi and neighbouring villages in Makira/Ulawa Province, Solomon Islands. She was the first woman to be elected into this role by her community and I took it as a positive sign that the majority of those present for the vote were young women and men, making an important decision for the community’s future and putting their faith in a fellow young person. 

At the end of “the tensions”, a civil war in Solomon Islands which lasted from 1998 to 2003, peace was something not many people could picture. The government requested, and received, support from the region and 14 years of RAMSI – the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands – ensued.

I moved to Solomon Islands in 2010 and was privileged to see many of the peacebuilding activities roll out and support communities to take the lead in creating a more harmonious society. The use of Village Peace Wardens was one of these, coming under the Community Governance and Grievance Management Project. Through the project, Village Peace Wardens – as they are called in Makira – are elected by communities to help chiefs, church and other leaders and community members resolve low-level local conflicts peacefully, with assistance from government when needed.

There are currently 29 Village Peace Wardens in Makira/Ulawa Province, but only two of them are women. Sometimes it can be because the women themselves don’t have the confidence to take on the role.

Margaret herself was reluctant at first, saying, “When the time comes for public speaking, I was not brave to talk and look in the eyes of people, that made me reluctant but after a while I decided to try it. The story going around was that people said I would be easy to approach and come to, they liked to have a man, but some men are hard to approach. People said ‘we want you to accept the position’, women said, ‘we won’t feel frightened to come to you’, so they chose me and I decided to take up the role of Peace Warden.”

But since accepting the position, Margaret’s proven she’s more than capable, from having an active involvement in the drafting of local bylaws, to working closely with chiefs, often going to incidents to get information and make reports. A lot of the issues she deals with involve thefts (including pigs or crops) or people drinking, fighting, or making noise that disturbs the community.  She also proactively engages with known “troublemakers” to encourage them into alternative activities. 

To be successful, Margaret encourages teamwork, and getting back up from the police and government when needed: “I like my work and can see it is good but I also advise people in the community we must work together, wardens need help from everyone in community, they can’t do it alone. Police also need to come down to support the local peace wardens and make awareness. Sometimes I think if peace wardens talk but police do not show their faces here, people will not worry about it, the province needs to work with the wardens too.”

Margaret has shown herself, and her community, that restoring peace is possible, and today – the International Day of Peace – I congratulate her and the work she’s done and look forward to her continued success.
 

by · Thursday, 21 September 2017 · Oman
Visiting conflict-affected communities in the Philippines: a Country Director’s experience

Visiting conflict-affected communities in the Philippines: a Country Director’s experience

Country Director Mara Warwick poses with the women of Maguindanao, in Mindanao, southern Philippines who are benefiting from livelihood projects under the multi-donor Mindanao Trust Fund.
Photo: Justine Espina-Letargo/World Bank

Peace – something that many of us take for granted in our own lives – is elusive for millions of people around the world, including in southern Philippines.  Long-standing conflict between the government and rebel groups, and a complicated patchwork of clan and family conflicts, has led to decades of economic stagnation and poverty in one of the Philippines’ most beautiful and productive regions – Mindanao.  A peace process is hopefully nearing its conclusion and is expected to bring autonomy and with it, greater opportunities for peace and development to the people of the Bangsamoro.

The Philippines is a middle-income country – with GDP at $2,953 per capita and a robust economy, with almost 96% enrollment rate in basic education, and improving health indicators such as child mortality; overall the country is doing well.  But these numbers mask sharp regional contrasts: in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) the GDP per capita is only $576 – equivalent to countries like Rwanda and Afghanistan – the poverty rate is 53.7%, and more than 50% of its employed population are in agriculture with 80% of them working as subsistence farmers, living precariously from crop to crop.  One crop failure can mean ruin for a family.

Before coming to the Philippines to work, I had never worked in conflict-affected areas.  There are many colleagues in the World Bank who specialize in this, who are passionate and dedicated, driven to work harder and longer to see positive outcomes for the communities their work supports, and it is not hard to see why. 

Visiting areas subject to conflict for decades is at once distressing and uplifting.  In the most conflict-ridden areas of Mindanao people are very poor – they live in reed houses, most often do not have running water, sanitation or electricity, and the roads, where they exist, are not sealed, becoming quagmires on a rainy day. 

When fighting erupts as it all too often does, communities have to flee, sometimes becoming dislocated for years at a time.  They farm low value crops – mostly corn and rice – because they cannot afford to plant anything else. They cannot invest in high-value crops like coconuts that take a while to mature for fear that they cannot stay for years in their communities.

And yet visiting these areas is also uplifting.  Why?  Because these people have a pride, grace, resilience, and good humor that deeply impresses me.  We are always greeted warmly and our conversations are infused with laughter.  They are endlessly fascinated with my height (tall) and my hair color (light).  We talk about our children and the things we enjoy doing. 

These are also amazingly practical people.  In one community supported under the Mindanao Trust Fund, the people’s committee set up to oversee the project comprised all women.  When I asked the chairwoman of the committee why this was, she said (with a laugh) that the men in the village had asked the women to lead the project because the men thought that if they had been in the lead, there would have been too much arguing and not enough decision-making!

Mindanao is at a critical juncture.  The ongoing conflict in Marawi shows how the situation is changing and new stresses, including the rise of extremism, present a real risk for many countries, including the Philippines.  

The solution is not easy, but a place to start is with the youth.  Young people need hope for the future – education, a job, the right to their own self-identity and self-expression, and freedom from poverty.  In my conversations with mothers in Mindanao, I hear echoes of my concerns about my own children. Are they healthy?  Are they doing well at school?  What will they be when they grow up?  Our concerns are the same, but the foundation and stability on which we base our support for our children differs like night and day.

In one of the communities we visited in Maguindanao, we spoke with a group of young people who had just completed an Alternative Learning Course – a 5-month intensive literacy course for adults who either dropped out of school or were not able to attend when they were children.  They had studied hard during their 5-month course – excited by the unexpected opportunities that could now be ahead of them.  Although they had not yet even completed their final exams, 8 of the cohort of 50 had already been admitted to technical vocational training in a nearby town.  And when I asked those with whom we met what they wanted to be, the young women were particularly vocal: “I want to be a midwife!”, “I want to be a teacher!”.  And with the kind of grit and determination that these young women possess, I can only bet that they will be too.

by · Thursday, 21 September 2017 · Afghanistan, Oman, Philippines
Lồng ghép giới trong tái định cư: Chúng ta đã cố hết sức chưa?

Lồng ghép giới trong tái định cư: Chúng ta đã cố hết sức chưa?

Một phụ nữ người Thái tại buổi lấy ý kiến về dự án thuỷ điện
Trung sơn.  Photo: Bồ Thị Hồng Mai / Ngân hàng Thế giới


Tháng 8 năm 2016, tôi đến Quảng Ngãi, một tỉnh miền Trung Việt Nam, nhằm thu thập số liệu điều tra về sự tham gia của phụ nữ trong quá trình tái định cư. Tôi nghĩ cuộc họp đầu tiên với người dân địa phương sẽ diễn ra suôn sẻ và nhanh chóng, nhưng thực tếkhông hẳn như vậy.

“Phụ nữ á? Chúng tôi tham gia á? Tham gia cũng thế thôi. Chúng tôi chỉ quanh quẩn ở nhà, nên không quan tâm đến việc cán bộ đến và hỏi chúng tôi tham gia hay không,” một phụ nữ nói. “Cái chúng tôi muốn biết là những kiến nghị hôm nay sẽ được thực hiện đến đâu. Chúng tôi cần một khu tái định cư, nhà văn hoá chung cho cộng đồng, cần có cây cối và nhà trẻ như đã hứa khi chuẩn bị dự án.”

Những ý kiến đó hé lộ một vấn đề quan trọng. Đó là sự lệch pha giữa cái mà ta tưởng là phụ nữ muốn và nhu cầu thực sự của họ.

Phụ nữ chịu tác động nghiêm trọng hơn nam giới trong quá trình tái định cư bởi họ phải đối đầu với nhiều khó khăn trong vấn đề ổn định gia đình. Điều này càng dễ thấy nếu không có cơ chế thu hút sự tham gia và lấy ý kiến phụ nữ một cách thực chất trong quá trình thực hiện dự án nói chung và trong quá trình tái định cư nói riêng.

Kết quả sơ bộ điều tra của chúng tôi cho thấy người dân có một số định kiến về năng lực và chất lượng tham gia của phụ nữ. Tại các cuộc họp, phụ nữ thường bị coi là thụ động, ít khi có ý kiến riêng. Những quan niệm truyền thống về phân công lao động ngăn cản phụ nữ tham gia và cho ý kiến về tái định cư một cách hiệu quả, do nam giới mặc nhiên được coi là thích hợp hơn với các cuộc họp về vấn đề này.

Quan niệm chung cũng cho rằng nam giới hiểu và tiếp cận thông tin thị trường đất đai tốt hơn. Rõ ràng rằng những định kiến này đã dẫn đến tỉ lệ phụ nữ tham gia cho ý kiến về tái định cư thấp, ví dụ khi cần ra quyết định về thiết kế (nhà tái định cư), thời gian xây dựng, kinh phí, v..v.

Không tính đến  nhu cầu của phụ nữ sẽ ảnh hưởng đến sự thành bại của các chương trình tái định cư. Một phụ nữ tái định cư tại Sơn La cho biết: “Cán bộ dự án đến và thuyết phục chúng tôi chuyển nhà đến nơi ở mới để xây dựng mạng điện quốc gia. Nhưng chúng tôi chả ai muốn đi. Ai cũng khóc, tôi cũng thế.”

Tuy nhiên, lồng ghép giới trong tái định cư là có thể thực hiện được. Nó có thể làm giảm phần nào khó khăn nảy sinh khi phải dời khỏi nơi ở cũ và giúp quá trình tái định cư được thực hiện suôn sẻ hơn. Kinh nghiệm tại dự án thuỷ điện Trung Sơn do Ngân hàng Thế giới tài trợ cho thấy lồng ghép giới vào quá trình tái định cư có thể mang lại hiệu quả tích cực. Với sự hỗ trợ kỹ thuật từ dự án Giới và Năng lượng tại khu vực Châu Á – Thái Bình Dương, các hoạt động sau đã được thực hiện:

  • Thúc đẩy bình đẳng giới trong tiếp cận tiền bồi thường trong kế hoạch tái định cư;
  • Tăng cường hệ thống giám sát các hoạt động cải thiện sinh kế, nâng cao năng lực thu thập và báo cáo số liệu về các vấn đề giới cho cán bộ dự án thuỷ điện Trung Sơn;
  • Nâng cao tỉ lệ tham gia của phụ nữ vào các hoạt động sinh kế;
  • Rà soát nội dung và phương pháp tập huấn, hướng dẫn hội phụ nữ huyện sử dụng tài liệu và phương pháp tập huấn đó;
  • Xây dựng và thí điểm thành công các giải pháp tiết kiệm, sáng tạo, phù hợp nhằm tiếp cận các nhóm dễ bị tổn thương (cộng đồng người H’mong), cung cấp cho họ thông tin về tác động của dự án bằng tiếng dân tộc.

Như vây, tái định cư phải mang lại cơ hội mới chứ không phải khó khăn. Đây là lúc chúng ta cần củng cố phương pháp tiếp cận và đẩy mạnh thực hiện. Chương trình tái định cư chỉ được coi là thành công khi nó  góp phần nâng cao năng lực cho cán bộ chinh quyền các cấp và  mang lại cơ hội bình đẳng cho phụ nữ và nam giới về sở hữu đất đai, tiếp cận thông tin, và giúp học có được kĩ năng và nguồn lực cần thiết để tham gia có hiệu quả vào quá trình ra quyết định.

by · Wednesday, 6 September 2017 · Oman, Vietnam

How can India end this tide of violence against women? | KumKum Dasgupta

Despite rising levels of education, gender awareness and stringent pro-women laws, change has been slow and violence against women is increasing The rape of a young woman by a taxi driver in Delhi has again left the city and the country traumatised, an…

by · Wednesday, 10 December 2014 · India, Oman