Among the several thousand candidates nominated for the 8 November elections in Myanmar only an estimated 13 % are women and they will face many challenges to win their seats as they enjoy less support from parties and society at large in taking political positions. DIPD convened a conference on Women in Politics on 20-21 August in Yangon to discuss promotion of the participation and representation of women in politics.
The conference benefitted from the experiences and ideas from three experienced Danish politicians partaking in the DIPD delegation, which underlined that while Denmark recently celebrated the 100-year anniversary of its constitution that gave women the right to vote, and the subsequent gains made by women in politics and other sectors, Myanmar is just emerging from a long period of military rule where opportunities for the democratic participation and representation of women (and men) have been extremely limited.
Participants at the conference, many of them female candidates, discussed how to get gender issues on to the agenda, enhance women’s involvement in political parties, and build the capacity of women in parties.
Through the presentations and discussions at the seminar, participants explored the different ways in which political parties can enhance gender equality and increase the participation of women in parties and in leadership. Lone Loklindt of the Social Liberal Party discussed the importance of a strong women’s movement entering alliances with political parties and creating a conducive environment for women’s participation through the adoption of social reforms including day care and maternity leave.
Steen Gade discussed how quotas helped the Socialist People’s Party promote the equal representation of women in party leadership positions, until the quotas were relaxed as they were no longer necessary. Lars Barfoed of the Conservative Party stressed the importance of building broad cross- party political accords to get affirmative action enacted in Parliament and supportive measures implemented in all sectors. Thin Thin Aung of the Women’s League of Burma discussed how advocacy efforts resulted in the inclusion of women in Myanmar’s ongoing peace talks.
The Danish Ambassador to Myanmar Peter Lysholt Hansen opened the seminar and noted the many significant challenges women face in their quest for political representation and gender equality, but also the advances that have already been made in a short period. DIPD will through its multiparty democracy programme in Myanmar continue to support the efforts to increase women’s participation and leadership in political parties and reforms that enhance gender equality.
To read DIPD’s full report on Women in Politics: Seminar Report August 2015.
For more information
Khin Thazin Myint, Myanmar Country Coordinator, +95 9 421 009 560 (email@example.com) or
Hanne Lund Madsen, Senior Adviser, +45 38402802 (firstname.lastname@example.org)