POLICY BRIEF: Gender and Hydropower: Women’s Rights in the Development Discourse

Publication date: October 2017

Author: Nang Shining

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This policy brief provides recommendations for hydropower developments, focusing particularly on the nexus of gender and hydropower development. In recent years, Myanmar has been moving towards market economy development with a tendency to extract natural resources in order to fuel economic growth. Hydropower is an example of how the government is meeting the demands of economic growth through electricity that benefits some at the expense of others. Gender is just one aspect among many that has been undermined in this process. It is recognized in Myanmar that women are important bearers of culture in society, often with a close relationship with the environment, but they have little recognition in society and have little decision making power when it comes to natural resource management.

Large dam projects and increased militarization are interconnected in this context and are perceived to have taken a negative toll on women. Past experiences have revealed that increased militarization also means an increase in conflicts and sexual and gender-based violence against ethnic minority women. Therefore, policies that ensures a gender perspective associated with hydropower are crucial for future sustainable development. This policy brief is written to complement the National Strategic Plan for the Advancement of Women (NSPAW) policy framework in order to address the key gender issues in the hydropower sector.