Involving both men and women at all levels of development planning, implementation and evaluation will make a world of difference in the entire society by carrying out social change through development interventions. Such planning processes ensure women to be a social resource and treat them as partners in development. This argument presents a robust underpinning for the Gender and Development (GAD) approach. GAD focuses not on women per se but on gender relations i.e. the relations between men and women in diverse settings. GAD approach considers women as active agents and not passive recipients of development.
Planners must have the significant task of listening to both men and women and then to build their vision into planning strategies. A sense needs to prevail that planning is more than just a technical and mechanical exercise. The policymakers may set the planning agenda but it is the planners’ perspective which influences the levels of ardour to fulfil the policymakers’ wish. In fact, the planners are front-line agents of the state’s development intervention. Therefore, they are not merely technical experts but also political actors in the development process.
Since women are affectively attached to the welfare of the household, they are more aware than men about the needs for infrastructure and services for their household. They are also more committed to the success of the projects that improves living conditions, therefore, women’s participation is a means to improve project results (Young, 1997).
Moreover, in 1997 the gender mainstreaming adopted by UN as a global strategy which was based upon the Beijing Platform for Action, has also incorporated many gender planning concepts (Moser, 2014). Gender planning attempts to bridge the gap between theory, practice and gender planning, its principles and practices are still relevant today. Furthermore, gender planning contributes to the continuous demand for practitioner-focused gender frameworks to create awareness among new generations, as well as providing associated tools for policy, planning and project formulation and implementation.
A case study of Song Bong 4 Hydropower project in Vietnam can be mentioned as a good practice of planning from a gender perspective. The resettlement plan of the project has ensured the equal participation of women at all stages. Women’s voices were heard and agreement was reached in resettlement consultations, women’s role in site selection, women’s contribution in design and management of infrastructure at sites were some of the pioneering features of gender inclusive approach adopted by these authorities. The intrinsic value of women’s participation for both women themselves and their communities is reflected in the fact that women are continuing to meet on a regular basis even after their villages have been fully relocated (ADB, 2014). These meetings are avenues to discuss issues ranging from private to community matters at the resettlement sites. Gender-related benefits in resettlement have also emerged in this project. Women have equal entitlement to compensation like joint titles in the name of both husband and wife, the same individual rights have been guaranteed for households headed by a single man or a single woman and the practice of paying cash compensation to both husbands and wives equally, transparently and publicly. Besides, women have direct channels of grievance redressal, women enjoy improved mobility, access to services like healthcare and maximum opportunities to develop skills and capacity of affected women.
Asian Development Bank, “Navigating Gender Inclusive Resettlement: The Experience of the Song Bong 4 Hydropower Project in Vietnam”, Manila: Asian Development Bank, 2014
Moser, C.O.N., “Gender Planning and Development: Revisiting, Deconstructing and Reflecting”, DPU Working Paper Series: Reflections, No. 165/60, London: Development Planning Unit, University College London, 2014
Moser, C.O.N., Gender Planning and Development, London: Routledge, 1993
Young, K., “ Gender and Development”, in The Women, Gender & Development Reader edited by Nalini Vivanathan et.al., 51-54, New Delhi: Zubaan- An Imprint of Kali for Women, 1997
Young, K., “ Planning from a Gender Perspective”, in The Women, Gender & Development Reader edited by Nalini Vivanathan et.al., 366-374, New Delhi: Zubaan- An Imprint of Kali for Women, 1997
Gaurav Sikka is a PhD Research Scholar at Department of Geography, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi (India). He holds positions on the steering committee of International Geographical Union Task Force for Young and Early Career Geographers and the executive committee of the Royal Geographical Society Gender & Feminist Geographies Research Group. Presently, Gaurav teaches at the Department of Geography, Aditi Mahavidyalaya, University of Delhi.