13. In conclusion
Rather than a conclusion, this is really about what the resource persons thought about the course. The first thing to note was the complete attendance of participants in all sessions. This is unusual for any programme of this type. Normally 80% attendance is counted as very good. Except for the fact that some participants could not arrive on time, there was no absenteeism during the whole course, despite the fact that the venue was right in the heart of Bangkok's shopping district and the participants were kept busy till 5 p.m. every evening. If attendance can be taken as an indicator of interest, then the participants showed a very high level of interest in the course.
As mentioned earlier, two-thirds of the participants were women, including a number of women foresters. But not only was there a high level of participation by women in numbers, in discussions too there was a lot of participation by both men and women. The numerous case studies were helpful in eliciting discussion from the participants and interaction between resource persons and trainees. The relative failure of some case studies, like the project formulations done at the end, need to be taken into account in future design of courses and their time schedules.
While the trainees felt that they had learnt something about why gender analysis was necessary and how to do it, the resource persons also learnt something about organizing such training. The sub-regional scope of the training was decided on the understanding that there was a lot of commonality in the gender situation across South Asia. Discussions in the course repeatedly brought home the point that there was considerable variation within South Asia too. In particular, the Indo-Gangetic plain stood out as different from the plateau and Sri Lanka. Even more so, Bhutan and Maldives contrasted sharply in a number of features and customs, given the strong matrilineal traditions of these countries. The variation was useful in showing to participants that the forms of gender relations they know are not so universal and thus obviously not "natural". At the same time, this variation also showed the necessity of a closer look at gender questions in the changing societies that are still matrilineal or have been so until very recently. Such study needs to be incorporated into future gender training courses.
The differences in the responses of participants over the period of the course and, in particular, the arguments in the "role playing" exercise showed that the trainees had learnt something about the arguments related to gender issues in wood energy. To what extent had the participants accepted or agreed to what they had learnt? That is difficult to judge and only the future will tell. But the enthusiastic and diligent participation of the trainees and their stated intentions to try and incorporate gender into their spheres of work are indicators that the training course did have some beneficial impact. The participants felt that RWEDP has to follow up by keeping in touch with the trainees, getting some feed-back on what they have done, and providing further materials, like the module on "Gender and Wood Energy", to help the incorporation of gender issues into wood energy planning and projects.