Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women Project: Completion Report
sector: Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development | country: Nepal
Multiple and interrelated women’s issues are best addressed through integrated approaches for creating better synergy. The project’s approach of strengthening the capacities of the DWD (Department of Women Development) and WDOs (Women Development Offices), formation and capacity building of women’s organizations, building women’s knowledge about their rights, and targeted interventions to address women’s practical needs, such as income generation, time-saving technologies, and women-friendly infrastructure, has given women better access to opportunities and services that responded to their needs not only for survival but also for better social mobility and empowerment. Access to microfinance and support through start-up grants were instrumental for women’s economic empowerment.
In order to reduce the gap in overall human development and gender equity indexes, the targeted interventions on women’s empowerment are still highly relevant in Nepal. VDC (village development committee) clustering in the project area based on geographic contiguity and similarity should be considered when selecting project sites in remote areas. Doing so can improve staff mobility, service delivery, monitoring, and supervision.
Intersectionality is an important element to be addressed in projects promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality. Women are a heterogeneous group and their diversity based on caste, ethnicity, religion, region, and language are critical factors contributing to their abilities to benefit from and contribute to the overall project implementation.
Coordination with like-minded donors and other stakeholders on a regular basis helps in improving project implementation, harmonizing approaches, eliminating duplication, creating synergies, and resolving implementation issues.
In view of the fact that the project is one of a limited number of direct gender interventions undertaken by ADB, and in view of the less than optimal history of the project, substantial and meaningful lessons could have been drawn from it. Instead, the lessons provided in the project completion report (PCR) are general, and lacking in depth. This validation notes more appropriate lessons could have included, such as the following:
(i) A project’s scope must be within the implementation capacity of the executing and implementing agencies.
(ii) Geographic targeting of poor, isolated areas is crucial in reaching communities that are most in need of development support, but it may undermine project implementation and viability.
(iii) Project success depends, to a large extent, on continuous support and attention by ADB – as shown by the long delays and lack of progress when the project was managed from headquarters – in contrast to the quick successful completion after its delegation to the Nepal Resident Mission (NRM).