Of a total of 106 Cambodia National Level One Survey staff, only 7 are women. These women fill positions in the project as follows:
Data Entry Officers (3)
All of the women employed by the project are headquarters staff although one woman served three months in the field as the Field Manager prior to taking over as Project Manager.
Although recognizing the need for better gender balance within the project, the letter of agreement between the project donor CIDA and partner CMAC was such that all surveyors had to be recruited from amongst existing CMAC staff. This contractual agreement determined that there would be no female surveyors in this project.
Fortunately, there are no cultural taboos that prohibit men and women from speaking to each other in Cambodia. Nevertheless, it was immediately apparent that in order to ensure that women's perspectives and information were adequately represented, training would need to focus on the need for and way of eliciting mine and UXO-related information from women specifically.
Regardless of the understanding and sensitivity to gender issues ultimately demonstrated by the surveyors, an unavoidable gender bias resulted from the heavy emphasis placed on information provided by village chiefs and other administrative authorities. In the entire country, there was only one province in which surveyors encountered female administrative authorities. These few women were village chiefs in remote villages of Mondul Kiri Province.
Regardless of circumstances that precluded an improved response to gender-related issues by the survey, random quality assurance checks highlighted a generally good distribution of male and female respondents throughout the survey.
Information on Gender Provided by Other Organisations During Survey Planning
Discussions with other survey implementing organisations in Cambodia indicate there is a need to consider 'gender' from the perspective of:
a) survey team structure and
b) sampling and interviewee selection
1. Survey Team Structure
CMAC Verification Branch (Survey)
There have never been any female surveyors employed by CMAC. In large part this reflects the fact that CMAC surveyors were recruited internally and must have demining experience to be eligible to apply for survey positions. CMAC does not train or hire women as deminers thus the potential for mixed survey teams is currently non-existent in CMAC.
In general, the lack of female surveyors is not seen as a problem within CMAC. It is generally accepted that there are few cultural prohibitions that restrict the access of male surveyors to female populations in rural areas in Cambodia. Women are not socially constrained from speaking openly to male surveyors.
There is also a general perception that women are not interested in working as surveyors because of the demanding nature of the job and the amount of time they are required to be away from home
Mine Awareness Branch, CMAC
CMAC does employ female mine awareness instructors (1 female is included in each 5 person MA team). CMAC experience with female mine awareness instructors suggests that women are more comfortable with and more willing to speak to other women. Experience in delivering mine awareness suggests that having women instructors on the teams has enhanced communications between CMAC and village women and children.
One problem is that fewer women than men apply for advertised mine awareness positions. This is thought to reflect the fact that women prefer office work to field work because they are reluctant to be away from their families and/or to travel in difficult circumstances.
Of the women who do apply to work as mine awareness instructors few have the required secondary school education.
Logistically, CMAC has experienced little difficulty related to the inclusion of women on the teams. Teams deploy to villages but return each evening to a 'CMAC team house' located in a central location. This approach overcomes potential difficulties associated with women staying in villages overnight. There have not been problems related to the acceptance of women as 'professional mine awareness instructors' within villages.
Mines Advisory Group (MAG)
MAG employs women as mine awareness instructors and as deminers but does not use women on their survey teams because of difficulties faced by women in travelling to remote parts of Cambodia.
Other Organisational Experience
UNICEF and the World Food Program (WFP) employ female survey staff. These women have been accepted by their male colleagues and have effectively assumed supervisory positions with little apparent cultural resistance.
40% of WFP surveyors are women. Teams are deployed, two to a motorcycle with the woman riding as the passenger.
2. Sampling and Interviewee Selection
Mines Advisory Group
In MAG's experience male surveyors are able to collect a significant amount of information on the socio-economic impact of mines from women within affected villages. However, while women generally engage freely in discussions about mines and their impact with male surveyors, particular strategies must be applied in order to ensure that women's information and perspectives are captured during the data gathering process. MAG's experience suggests that:
Women never hold positions of formal authority within the village (e.g. village leader, deputy village leader, religious leader…) and so their views will be overlooked if figures of authority are solely relied on for information.
Male authorities seldom identify and direct surveyors to speak with (particularly mine vulnerable or mine knowledgeable) women within the village.
Women will attend meetings but in general will not contribute to discussions if 'authorities' are present.
Women will offer their views if they are specifically sought or if participatory processes (such as community mapping techniques) are used.
Old women are particularly good sources of village information.
There are indications that women are less likely than men to provide fabricated data when asked a question to which they do not know the answer.
Women are particularly sensitive/cognisant of socio-economic impacts related to their children and families overall (e.g. safe play environments, access to amenities such as markets, health centres, schools…).
Cambodian Red Cross
CRC data suggests that women who are the head of their households may be at greater risk of exposure to the mine threat than women of non-female headed households.
WFP has found that women are more effective communicators within the village context.
In terms of the existing approach to interviewee selection, CMAC teams rely on the recommendation of the village chief and other local authorities as to who should be interviewed. There is no formal requirement to include women in this selection.
CMAC surveyors rely heavily on data collected from village leaders and deputy village leaders. An informal review of recently completed survey questionnaires indicated that few respondents were women).
Proactive Gender Strategy
1. Recruitment of women surveyors and other survey staff
Effort will be made to recruit qualified women as survey staff
Women who demonstrate particular ability will be offered positions as supervisory staff.
Deployment of survey teams will take into consideration the need to deploy women to areas where difficulties handling motorcycles will be minimised and/or where women can deploy as passengers on motorcycles.
2. Village sampling to ensure the inclusion of women
Surveyors will be trained and instructed to seek the opinions of women and to question authorities about particularly mine knowledgeable or mine vulnerable women.
Community-based techniques for drawing women into discussion will be utilised during the survey (community mapping; focus groups).