Voices from the Mekong

In November 2020, Oxfam and the National University of Laos conducted a workshop on Gender and Water Governance for 12 students from the National University of Laos, Faculty of Water Resources. The activity, conducted under the Promotng Gender Equality and Empover Women Leadership in Water Governance in Laos and Mekong Region project (GIWL), built the students' capacities in journalistic story gathering. Firstly, to complement their knowledge on data-gathering methodologies, and secondly, to empower the students as advocates for Lao women leaders in Mekong water governance.

The Mekong river is the main livelihoods and sustenance source for most of the populations that live in the region. Women, who often play critical roles in the usage and management of water and aquatic resources, depend on the river for food, washing, cleaning, and other activities to support themselves, their families, and communities. Despite their participation in water-dependent activities, they are often far removed from decision-making and consultation processes on water-related issues.

The students spend three days in the field and visited Oxfam and partners' project sites in Luang Prabang, Champasack, and Theun Hinboun. There, they captured, through face-to-face interviews, the daily lives of Lao women leaders. "Voices from the Mekong" is a collection of stories produced by the students. 

The  project was a collaboration between Oxfam and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) – in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Gender Development Association (GDA), CLICK, and the National University of Laos. The project promoted gender equality and strengthened women’s leadership to increase inclusive decision-making on water governance in Lao PDR and the Mekong region, and also contributes to the SDC Mekong Strategy 2018-21, with a focus on governance and citizen’s participation. "Breaking Through Her Challenges" consists of profiles of Lao and Cambodian Women Leaders who are advocates for sustainable and responsible water resource management.