AWARENESS: International Day of Action for Rivers [14 March]

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Adopted by participants of the first International Meeting of People Affected by Dams, March 1997 in Curitiba, Brazil, the International Day of Action for Rivers is a time for community members, civil society and organizations like us to celebrate the value of healthy rivers, and educate and spread awareness about the conservation of our watersheds and the importance of equitable and sustainable management of rivers and waterways. Today we recognize the 21st annual Day of Action, an event that directly connects with much of work we do here at the Center for Social Development Studies. 

As one can probably tell from following our work and posts, we are quite passionate about the work and research we do on the region's rivers, particularly the Salween and Mekong Rivers, as well as the communities that depend on them for life and livelihoods and the unique but heavily threatened ecosystems that are located along these basins. Most recently the Center and its partners held a special workshop in Yangon, Myanmar on the present state and future of the Salween (Thanlwin) River, bringing together over 60 participants to debate and present research and findings about a great diversity of topics related to this important waterway, with the hope that policy and actions would eventually make their way up to official decision-makers with the goal of creating greater ownership for the river, leading to better planning and conservation of both the natural ecologies and human settlements.

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In 2017 CSDS helped support a special project called "Salween Stories," with the aim to use locally produced multimedia to tell the stories of the unique individuals and communities that live along the river. From Yunnan, China to the border regions of Thailand/Myanmar, this unique method of storytelling takes visitors to remote and often mystical locations around Southeast Asia to explore the lifestyles, myths and issues all stemming from one of the world's most important and threatened rivers. Visit their website to be transported to Hpa-an, Mae Sam Laep, Mong Pan and Nujiang

Spring 2018 marks the end of one of CSDS's most prominent, practical and most riparian-focused programs, the Salween Water Governance Fellowship, which brought together dozens of researchers based in Thailand and Myanmar, focused on strengthening networks between university researchers and civil society groups, and contributing to the empowerment of local communities. Last year's Greater Mekong WLE Forum saw the culmination of these projects with presentation from all research fellows which marks a major milestone in both the Center's vision and the achievements of the individuals and the work they represent. The policy briefs based on the research undertaken for this project can be found and downloaded here

The Center for Social Development Studies also welcomes you to visit our Publications sector to explore a great deal more research and information centered around rivers and the people who live on or around them.

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AWARENESS: International Women's Day [8 March]

By Robert Irven

"This year, International Women’s Day comes on the heels of unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice. Sexual harassment, violence and discrimination against women has captured headlines and public discourse, propelled by a rising determination for change." -United Nations

Today marks the celebration of International Women's Day, a day in which we should reflect on the progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage, resilience and determination by both ordinary and extraordinary women who have played an important role in the history of their countries, society and local communities. This year, the theme of today's celebrations and events is "Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives,” which puts an emphasis on the importance women play in the development of both parts of society. "Echoing the priority theme of the upcoming 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, International Women’s Day will also draw attention to the rights and activism of rural women, who make up over a quarter of the world population, and are being left behind in every measure of development." (United Nations, 2018)

As our Center is a strong believer and advocate for human rights, women's rights, and the ongoing struggle to achieve them in full, certainly falls under this overarching theme, and much of our past and current work focuses on gender and its connection to development in the region. The subject of gender, often combined to create a nexus of justice, development or equality, were touched upon in a variety of our publications, most notably from our Salween Fellowship researchers. From various blogs, to policy briefs on the topics of  "Gender and Hydropower: Women’s Rights in the Development Discourse" or "Large Hydropower Projects in Ethnic Areas in Myanmar: Placing Community Participation and Gender Central to Decision-Making," the Center for Social Development Studies continues to put gender and the importance of having women at the forefront of development and decision-making processes as a main priority of our research and projects.

For more information about International Women's Day 2018 and additional downloadable resources, please visit the official United Nations website.

Video message by H.E. Mr. António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, on the occasion of International Women's day 2018.