A conference was held in Hanoi this week to raise awareness of how transport projects can empower women by expanding access to services, income and employment opportunities.
"Too often transport projects are assumed to be gender neutral," Andrew Head, Deputy Country Director of the Asian Development Bank for Vietnam said at the three-day conference entitled "Mekong Gender and Transport," which opened on July 24.
"Proactive steps need to be taken to ensure that projects respond to women's different mobility needs as transport users, and their priorities must be heard in transport planning and policy."
About 60 officials from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, the ADB and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) exchanged practical knowledge on how gender issues have been successfully addressed in projects, how to ensure that transport systems are inclusive and accessible for all people, and discuss how different modes of transport present challenges to gender equality.
"From the way land acquisition is undertaken through to the changes in economic activity loss of livelihoods and new livelihood opportunities - that result from transport projects, the interests of women must be front and center if negative impacts on communities are to be minimized and new opportunities maximized," said Michael Wilson, AusAID's Mekong and Regional Minister-Counselor.