ADB Showcases Urban and Water Projects to Empower Women

VIENTIANE, LAO PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC – Officials from 12 countries in Asia and the Pacific, along with development partners and staff from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), are meeting from 14 to 16 November to discuss best practices in improving women’s access to urban services, safe water, and improved sanitation.

The three-day regional seminar on Gender, Urban Development and Water Supply and Sanitation in Vientiane, Lao PDR, is co-hosted by ADB and the Government of Lao PDR. It is examining how women’s participation in decision-making can contribute to tackling rapid urbanization in the region.

“Each day, 120,000 more people live in Asian cities,” said Chong Chi Nai, Country Director of ADB’s Lao PDR Resident Mission. “Women and girls are most vulnerable to the negative effects of urbanization, such as insufficient infrastructure and services, pollution, expensive public transport, and poverty. Their needs and priorities must be heard in urban planning and policy.”

The seminar is the fifth in a series of south-south learning about gender mainstreaming in various sectors. About 70 participants have gathered from across the Asia Pacific region. It coincides with the Asian Urban Forum 2011 in Manila where ADB’s new Urban Operational Plan is launched.

“With gender-inclusive project designs, targets for women’s access to project benefits, and close monitoring of implementation, it is possible to demonstrate strong women’s empowerment outcomes of urban and water supply projects,” said Sonomi Tanaka, ADB’s Principal Gender Specialist. “In this seminar engineers and financial experts in the urban and water sectors teach each other how they have addressed gender in their projects and how they have overcome challenges."

ADB’s long-term strategic framework, Strategy 2020, places gender equity as one of the five drivers of change to achieve an Asia and Pacific region free of poverty. ADB is on track to achieving 40% of its sovereign projects to directly promote gender equality and women’s empowerment by 2012.