Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Xavier Bouan


Myanmar SLM project contribution

1. In your view, what is the relation between sustainable soil use, management and conservation (including soil fertility and health) and gender equality?

In my point of view, it depends on the location. To understand this relation, one needs to first list  the soil management practices/activities carried out in a specific place, and then  to analyze  gender roles and women participation/equality in the context of these specific activities.

2. What are the distinct roles for women, men, boys and girls in sustainable soil management?

Normally here in Myanmar, the farm activities have been carried out by unpaid family labor. In some cases, paid labor is also applied. Whether it is paid labor or unpaid family labour, similarly we will need to analyze the activity by gender roles; women, men, boys, and girls. According to these figures, we could know the distinct roles in terms of gender for each category.

3. What are the main gender-based constraints, including unequal gender relations and discriminatory norms that hinder sustainable soil management and contribute to soil degradation? What practical solutions and approaches could help to overcome such barriers?

Again, it depends on the location, for example, we are applying SALT (Sloping Agriculture Land Technology) in Chin State which is a sustainable soil management practice. First, the farmers (he/she) should own the land (land tenure security). The second important thing is investment because soil management practices are normally costly in terms of money and labor as well. It also depends on other factors; whether sustainable soil management techniques are accessible/feasible (for example – guidance by staff of the department of agriculture/INGO/LNGO), whether farmers can have alternative income sources, and farmers’ personal interest and willingness to do so, etc.

4. How can the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment contribute to sustainable soil management and conservation? Which interventions at policy and project/field level are of utmost priority? What are some potential entry points for success?

  • The entry point for the policy level will be; we must show/present the success/achievement at the project level in terms of figure/data.
  • For example; as I was staff of SCI (Save the Children International) one of the INGOs, the Myanmar government allowed 3 months for maternity leave before. It is extended by Myanmar Government up to 6 months after SCI approved the benefit of the 6-month period of maternity leave and approached at policy level.
  • Similarly, regarding cash provision to pregnant/lactating women with children under the age of 2 years, SCI studied two groups in the pilot township in Rakhine State in Myanmar. One group (30 villages) has received only training for nutrition and hygiene practices (which we called the “control group”), another group (another 30 villages) has received both the same training (for nutrition and hygiene practices) and cash provision (15000 MMK/month/mother) to fully nourish their babies. The positive results (healthy baby, normal height of children, no stunting, etc.) achieved by the provision of training plus cash, has led SCI to broaden the implementation area in the Rakhine State. In 2018, the government extends a similar implementation in the whole Chin State of Myanmar through government channels.
  • I think that gender equality is not much of a problem in our case. But we will need to work for women empowerment.