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Closing the gender gap

Tackling gender inequity is a moral imperative, says Mott MacDonald consultant Tahmina Shafique, but it is also crucial to alleviating poverty and building sustainable societies.

For decades gender equity has been a core element of all the projects designed by Mott MacDonald – across governance, education, health, private sector development, water, environment and social protection – creating pathways to empower girls and women in developing countries around the world. In each of these programmes, we strive to improve the economic and social status of women and strengthen their resilience to sustainably manage their own lives and livelihoods.

Here’s how we are working to promote gender equity and equal access to rights and opportunities across all sectors of society:

Collecting better data on women enables us to learn more about their needs and design projects that are more effective at reducing inequality.

For the RWASH programme in Nepal we developed a monitoring and evaluation framework and a web-based management information system that were gender sensitive. This had a major impact on raising awareness of gender issues at national and district levels in a nation where women play a key role in rural water supply and sanitation.

By employing a certain percentage of women in leadership and decisionmaking roles, our projects help to promote women’s interests.

As part of a water treatment plant project in Bangladesh, we consulted local women on the design and installation of piped water supply systems. It had a positive effect on women’s livelihoods – spending less time collecting water meant they could take up paid employment.

Promoting female entrepreneurship helps women to contribute to the family income, which increases their status in households.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts Rural Development Project in Bangladesh has boosted employment opportunities for women excluded from society due to cultural stigma. Outcomes include: 2500 women employed as labourers with equal wages for men and women; separate sanitation facilities and daycare for women with infants; 50% of market spaces allocated to women sellers and entrepreneurs; training courses in vegetable production for women.

Improving women’s official recognition within agriculture gives them more control over their livelihoods.

We are currently implementing the South Sudan Agribusiness Development Programme, which aims to help establish or strengthen 250 small and medium businesses and farms. Gender equity is being promoted in this programme, not just through the explicit inclusion of women on training courses, but also through the inclusion of the South Sudan Women Entrepreneurs Association on the project steering committee, which meets twice a year.

Widening access to education not only improves young women’s employment prospects, they learn more about their rights and how to enforce them.

The EQUIP-Tanzania programme is strengthening the quality of primary education, especially for girls, in seven educationally disadvantaged regions of Tanzania. It will deliver better education outcomes for more than 2M children and high-quality training for 48,000 teachers.

Investing in sexual and reproductive health services gives girls and women more control over their fertility, improving their ability to finish school and find jobs.

We were commissioned to evaluate the Nepal Ministry of Health’s initiatives to increase access to quality family planning services to particular groups of women and young girls who have the highest need and demand for family planning. This included studies to better understand factors affecting access to, and use of, family planning services among four selected population groups in Nepal: migrant couples, the urban poor, young people, and Muslim communities.

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