Strengthening the Role of Women in the Transboundary Landscapes of the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region : Building resilience to shocks and vulnerabilities

The overall objective of the project is to facilitate and further strengthen women’s roles in trade – both in terms of access and benefits – within ICIMOD’s transboundary landscapes. Keeping the Covid-19 crisis in mind, a particular emphasis has been laid on building their resilience to shocks and vulnerabilities.

Specific objectives of the project include:

  • Understanding the formal and informal trade happening in the Transboundary Landscapes with special focus on the engagement of women
  • Identifying shocks and vulnerabilities, including the impact of COVID-19
  • Exploring opportunities to enhance their resilience to shocks and vulnerabilities.

The project has been undertaken in a consortium approach with CUTS partners across
China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Nepal, India, Bhutan, and Myanmar. A three-phase process is envisaged beginning with understanding the status and issues relating to women in trade in the Transboundary Landscapes. The proposed study duration is estimated to be six months for phase I. This phase will comprise collecting evidence, organising webinar, and report writing.

The following activities will be undertaken over a period of six months:
Desk Research: CUTS will undertake a critical review of current and relevant literature for each country in the transboundary landscape to develop better understanding of the trade activities happening and nature of engagement of women in those activities. Specifically, the desk research will include

  • Review of the national trade policies of all eight countries
  • Government packages/schemes especially for women entrepreneurs
  • Provisions for private sector/financial institutions to support priority areas like women entrepreneurships/in trade
  • Identifying Govt/non-govt institutions set up for developing women enterprises to encourage women
  • Identifying development agencies/NGOs already involved in women in trade activities in each Transboundary Landscapes.
  • Review of publications on cross border trade in the selected landscapes

The findings from the literature review will also feed in strengthening the methodology of the field research. Based on the desk review, the questionnaire for the survey will be prepared with both closed and open-ended questions.

Field Research: Based on the undertaken desk review, a questionnaire for field research will be prepared with both closed and open-ended questions. The respondents will be entrepreneurs involved in local, national, international, and cross-border trade in both informal sector and formal sector particularly in agriculture, nature-based produce, handicrafts, tourism, etc. The survey will be in line with the objectives of the project. The selection of respondents for the survey will be based on snowballing techniques.

Apart from individual survey, Key Informative Interviews (KII) and Focused Group Discussions (FGD) will also be conducted with relevant stakeholders such as civil society organisations working with women entrepreneurs, business associations, networks, local government bodies, etc.

Organizing a Webinar: CUTS will organise a webinar with around 40 participants comprising women entrepreneurs, policy makers, chamber of commerce and industry representatives, civil society organisations working with women entrepreneurs, business associations and media houses. The key recommendations on building their resilience to shocks and vulnerabilities will be validated during the webinar.

This study is envisaged to be the Phase I of a three-phase larger program of building resilience of women traders in Transboundary Landscapes. It is expected that the recommendations of Phase 1 interventions would enable to initiate site level planning in selected landscapes and design specific interventions to build resilience of women engaged in economic activities envisaged in Phase II. The network initiated will act as a platform to share experiences/best practices as a learning platform.