Thus far we have observed that whether it is charcoal production, or raising mangrove seedlings, women are key partners and income generators for their families. In Myanmar, women are also afforded a voice in community discussions. We believe that direct investments in the mangrove park concept is also, therefore, a significant indirect investment in the empowerment of women, with well known multiplier effects. Indeed, in the nypa and orchid projects, most of the involved beneficiaries are women and in fact we have been told by local women how much they would value the inclusion of day care centers in the projects.
Such day care centers would become significant social development tools in themselves, of course, providing local children health and educational benefits. Currently, village women not only take care of their children and families, but they also work daily in rice harvest and other traditional forms of work. Their days are full to say the least, leaving little time for learning new skills or entrepreneurial involvement. But if women could entrust their children to a nearby locally run day care center, they could be free to pursue higher value income generating projects such as the spin-offs of mangrove restoration. (It is also noteworthy that at Pathein University, almost all department heads are women, and all are eager to contribute to the inter-displinary research and activities inherent in the mangrove park projects.)