09 Mar 2021
Gender, Community & Inclusion
Posted09 Mar 2021
The rich discussions amongst the MRLG team, our partners and national-based gender consultants is already driving more gender-responsive actions and outcomes as part of all workstream activities. COVID19 may have thrown a curveball for many of our activities, this one, however, can be considered a silver lining.
Working through the two phases of the Mekong Region Land Governance project, implemented by LEI and GRET, has seen new pathways being explored towards improving land governance. From community wins on landmark mediation cases, improvements in legal drafting consultations and legislative amendments, to new socially responsible engagement by private investors with communities that is generating a much wider acceptance of rights for smallholders and a stronger recognition of customary tenure arrangements.
A gearing up for a more direct approach to addressing women’s land rights was pointed out during a Gender Audit undertaken in 2018. Late in that year, Phase 2 was underway and the revised workstream approach began. With new additions to the team, including Natalie Campbell, in early 2020 a “Gender Strategy for MRLG” was prepared to guide more gender-equitable practices, trainings and studies. With the help of Dr Elizabeth Daley, land tenure and gender consultant and lead for Mokoro’s Women’s Land Tenure Security (WOLTS) Project since 2015, the strategy is now in full swing. Elizabeth has been using a host of webinar-facilitated trainings, drawing on online modules from FAO’s ‘Governing Land for Women and Men’ e-learning course, and guiding independent country-based activities.
A key objective of the Gender Strategy’s blended-learning program has been to support the emergence of a shared understanding across MRLG that gender is always important, even though the way it is addressed in different countries and workstreams will often need to vary with context. The strategy is being implemented with a three-pronged approach. First, through the identification of potential intervention points within project workstreams and activities that complement the broader project goals. Second, by creating a space for MRLG staff to develop country-specific draft Gender Action Plans with clear action points and objectives, to then be further developed directly with Alliance members. And finally, by rolling-out contextually-tailored versions of the gender and land training programme within each of the four project countries led by National Facilitators and National Gender Consultants.
Each of the 19 participants in MRLG’s blended learning program so far have been working through the online modules and completing a number of small structured homework tasks. The course was designed with COVID19 in mind, with important accountability arrangements in place, such as having allocated ‘course buddies’ and an active Zoom attendance session for each module, along with an additional (homework-free) Zoom workshop focused on gender norms. Participants from all the national project teams and the regional office were also required to jointly prepare a presentation for one of the online workshops.
A key result of the blended learning program has been the draft Gender Action Plans for each country, which will be monitored for implementation within the MRLG workstreams at country and regional level once they are finalised during the national training roll-out. Over the past months, team ownership of the action plans has been built within MRLG and a longer program of gender action engagement is currently being devised to continue the work going forward.
The rich discussions amongst the MRLG team, our partners and national-based gender consultants is already driving more gender-responsive actions and outcomes as part of all workstream activities. COVID19 may have thrown a curveball for many of our activities, this one, however, can be considered a silver lining. The online course materials that dedicated participants have gone through, and the open discussions that have uncovered the unconscious biases around women and men’s involvement in land activities are changing the way MRLG practices ‘gender mainstreaming’. An appreciation of the ‘enquiry’ approach that Elizabeth applies, her ability to draw out honest conversations, allows tangible experiences between theory and an individual’s practices to be shared. This is bringing out impactful and positive change among the project team and partners. As we follow the success of this approach, it is a key lesson to learn and adapt to future projects by Land Equity, and we would hope others may consider too.
For more information, please contact MRLG Gender Focal Point, Natalie Campbell, firstname.lastname@example.org
MRLG is a project of the Government of Switzerland through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), with co-financing from the Government of Germany, and the Government of Luxemburg.