In 2012, the GEF-funded, FAO implemented Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem (BOBLME) project commissioned a study to support the mainstreaming of a gender perspective in the BOBLME project and its Srategic Action Plan. A gender "audit" was carried out, examining international and regional instruments implemented in the eight BOBLME partner countries, as well as their national development and fisheries policies. The audit highlighted uneven progress in tackling gender inequalities and accounting of gender issues, overall denoting a cultural and institutional environment that may not be at all times conducive of gender mainstreaming initiatives. While the contents of majority of the BOBLME project documents audited were found to be gender-blind, this was attributed to a lack of awareness rather than an intended oversight. Despite the relative advancement of the project at this point in time, entry points to mainstream gender in the project's strategic documents and increase its contribution to gender equality in fisheries were identified. They included:
- The addition of a statement of political will or commitment to gender,
- The consideration of gender-sensitive actions,
- The addition of a section on cross-cutting issues covering gender training, communication, legislation, capacity building at field level, gender-disaggregated data collection and research on gender issues,
- The consideration of incentives and accounting mechanisms,
- The earmarking of a specific budget for gender-related activities at project level and strategic actions.
- The addition of a pathway to impact.
- The use of outcome mapping as a form of monitoring and evaluation.
The last two points in particular are pivotal in capturing the changes that are expected as result of both mainstreaming gender in the project, and the project’s own influence in progressing towards gender equality. Key recommendations for future action by the BOBLME partner countries are also provided. The report of the study is available here.
The resonance of these recommendations goes beyond the BOBLME project itself. The key messages of the study have been widely publicised in the project's Newsletter (here) and on the Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries community website (here). A peer-reviewed publication in Environmental Development also resulted from the study (available in open-access here, and in summary form here).