Mrs. Ma lives on the outskirts of Wuhan, one of the major cities in China. Like most women in her village, she does chores around the house and grows vegetables. She rarely gets involved in community activities – if there is a village meeting or gathering, her husband goes by himself.
So, she was surprised when researchers supporting the preparation of a World Bank-financed urban transport project asked her to speak about her concerns on the resettlement that would occur as part of the project and to share her ideas. She told researchers she thought the project should “make good use of compensation money” and that “women should have equal rights to men in the resettlement process.”
Mrs. Ma’s input led to a report on women’s role and voice in resettlement and compensation that will guide the design and implementation of the Wuhan project. “Women’s different demands need to be met and their voices need to be heard,” said World Bank Senior Social Development Specialist Zhefu Liu, who initiated the study.
The project is one of many examples of how Bank-financed projects have “mainstreamed” gender concerns, taking women’s voices into account and tailoring activities to meet their needs. In China, women’s status has improved significantly over the past decades, since the establishment of the gender equality policy of 1949. However, in the wake of nation’s rapidly changing economic, social and political conditions, sustained efforts are required to ensure that men and women are able to benefit equally from development gains.
Promoting gender equality and empowering women have taken on new urgency as China looks to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
"Taking into consideration gender issues, where it makes practical sense, not only helps to reduce gender inequality but also enhances general development results,” said Ede Ijjasz, Bank China and Mongolia sustainable development sector manager. “This is the basis of the World Bank's Gender Action Plan .”