Young women leading community development projects
June 1, 2012
HURFOM: For the first time, villages in Ye and Yebyu Townships are receiving community development projects led by women. Traditionally, most women in these Townships do not participate in leadership roles, and communities may doubt their ability to achieve development goals. However, these recent projects developed new infrastructure and became a source of pride for the young women, but most importantly, they changed the way villagers think about female roles in the community.
In early 2012, four young women began leading community development projects to assist their home communities. The four projects were initiated in four different villages and included cleaning the town well, building two new toilets for a state primary school, insulating a school’s metal roof, and replacing an old roof for a primary school.
The projects were designed to address the specific needs of each village. For example, the project to wash out the well was endeavored to improve local health by making clean drinking water accessible to the community. The project to insulate the school roof was developed to allow students to be able to study in the rainy and summer seasons. Now, teachers and parents do not need to worry about students getting heat sickness under the hot metal roof, and students will clearly hear their teachers speaking even when heavy rain pounds the zinc sheeting.
The young woman who led the roof insulation project said,“I faced many problems during my project because I needed to involve the villagers, villageheadman, and the monks. Sometimes they had disagreements with each other, and I found I needed to help resolve the issues first before we could begin working on the project. I had to determine how to motivate or encourage them when we faced problems, or explain our goal and the project’s benefits to the community in order to ensure we were successfully working together without any difficulties.”
She added that even though her project was implemented, she could not insulate the entire school roof because her budget was not sufficient for all the materials needed. Now, she and the village headman are collecting money from the villagers to complete the project. They also plan to paint the roof with a protective coating to keep insects out and safeguard the primary school for many years to come.
Another of the project leaders, the young woman who installed two new toilets for a primary school, said, “My biggest challenge was that I am a younger woman, and in the beginning of the project some people who were older than me did not trust or respect me. But when they understood what I was actively doing for my village, they decided to help me and participate. They even came to me to discuss any problems they had. I am very excited and happy about my project because I overcame the obstacles to accomplish the work. When the project started, I was also worried that I would not reach completion because I was managing every aspect of the project—the budget, construction, scheduling, travel, and even providing foods to the local people. I am proud of myself because some people doubted that I could help my community until the project was completed successfully.”
One villager reported that this was the first time the village had undertaken a community development project and thanked the young woman who led the endeavor. The resident said that the project outcome is very useful to the villagers and their children’s education and health.
The four projects were each scheduled to conclude in April, and while three are completed, one remains yet to finish due to complications in the village.