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Myanmar elections in need of more women!

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.

Group discussion on how to advance gender equality in Myanmar

Group discussion on how to advance gender equality in Myanmar

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.

Lone Loklindt on the practice of increasing women participation in her own party.

Lone Loklindt on the practice of increasing women participation in her own party

Steen Gade on his experiences in advancing women participation

Steen Gade on his experiences in advancing women participation

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.

Lar Barfoed discussed how to advance women participation in politics

Lars Barfoed discussed how to advance women participation in politics

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 (ktzm@dipd.dk) or

Hanne Lund Madsen, Senior Adviser, +45 38402802 (hlm@dipd.dk)

Read more about the DIPD engagement in Myanmar or at the MMDP website.

Coalitions and political accords – relevance and timing for Myanmar?

In Myanmar the parliamentary elections are due in November and depending on the election result it is possible that political parties will have to build coalitions to form a government and to pass legislation. To encourage dialogue on coalition building among political parties, DIPD held a seminar on coalition building on 19 August in Yangon.

Political party leaders from 58 political parties discussed different experiences and approaches to coalition building from Denmark, where political parties have built government coalitions for over 30 years until the formation of the current one party minority government in June. They also assessed the current practices of political party alliances and cooperation among parties in Myanmar.

Lars Barfoed sharing Danish experiences on coalition building

Lars Barfoed sharing Danish experiences on coalition building

A multiparty delegation of Danish politicians highlighted trends in coalition building in Denmark. Lone Loklindt of the Social Liberal Party emphasized the value of broad coalitions where 80% of legislation in the Danish Parliament is supported by more than 80% of the Parliament. This helps Danish parties generate legislation that lasts beyond the tenure of their government. Lars Barfoed of the Conservative People’s Party discussed the importance of negotiating with opposition to ensure that legislation has the support of a majority of Parliament.

With the registration of over 90 parties, many of them representing ethnic groups with a small constituency, political parties in Myanmar will face a considerable challenge in building coalitions. Salai Isaac of the “Gender and Development Initiative” Myanmar argued that parties should “focus more on the national interest” in their attempts to build coalitions. Steen Gade of the Socialist People’s Party encouraged parties to take a broad view, remarking that “Although we one day stand against each other as competitors in the elections, we can be working together in Parliament tomorrow.”

A participant raising questions during the seminar

A participant raising questions during the seminar

In his opening remarks, the European Union Ambassador Roland Kobia also emphasized the importance of dialogue and coalition building. DIPD will continue to convene multiparty dialogue initiatives  and capacity building workshops in the pre- and post election period.

To read DIPD’s full report on Coalition Building: Seminar Report August 2015.

For more information

Khin Thazin Myint, Myanmar Country Coordinator, +95 9 421 009 560 (ktzm@dipd.dk) or

Hanne Lund Madsen, Senior Adviser, +45 38402802 (hlm@dipd.dk)

Read more about the DIPD engagement in Myanmar or at the MMDP website.

Colombia’s fight for peace

On Thursday 27 August, Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) will screen the film ‘Life is Sacred’ picturing the former mayor of Bogota, Antanas Mockus, during his 2010 presidential campaign in Colombia. The documentary is a cinematic portrait of a man to whom victory arrived in an unexpected way.

The film Life is Sacred is the story of a fearless politician and his unique political career, philosophy – and life. Together with an army of young people all hoping for change, he uses pencils and balloons, flashmobs and mimes to fundamentally change a society, which is ravaged by corruption and violence.

Over the course of five years, the director Andreas M. Dalsgaard has stubbornly followed the Colombian philosopher and politician Antanas Mockus along with the leader of his youth campaign, the idealist Katherin Miranda. The result is a story, which we could not possibly have believed, had it been fiction.

After the screening of Life is Sacred the issues and questions posed by the film will be discussed by a panel consisting of;
– Andreas Dalsgaard: Director of the film
– Jairo Munive Rincon: Postdoc, DIIS, expert on disarmament and the peace process in Colombia
– Bjørn Førde, DIPD Director.

Read more about the program at DIIS here.

Mockus visited DIPD last year

Antanas Mockus visited Denmark and DIPD last year when the documentary originally premiered at the CPH:DOX film festival. After having presented “Life is Sacred” to a fully booked theater, Mockus shared his experience on Colombian politics and his approach to peace and reconciliation, with an engaged audience. Also in the panel was Danish journalist and Latin-American expert, Niels Lindvig, who broadened the discussion on the Colombian path to peace to include lessons and experiences from other countries such as Ireland.

Antanas Mockus (left), Niels Lindvig and Bjørn Førde during the panel debate at DIPD.

Antanas Mockus (left), Niels Lindvig and Bjørn Førde during the panel debate at DIPD.

The two panelists discussed the limited maneuverability of politicians in Columbia where  harassment of political opponents and suppression of the media is part of the everyday life. However, as Antanas Mockus highlighted, another more concealed Colombia exists where solutions to the long lasting violent conflict is addressed. On this note, Antanas Mockus emphasized that the movement behind his political success, was the strong support from the Colombian youth where he sees a huge potential for the country.

The panel debate concluded with the two participants agreeing that the peace process in Columbia takes time, it demands patience, and it is in no way a solution to seize to violent or unjust measures, no matter the measures of your opponent. This observation also led Lindvig to recite Mockus from back in 2010, when he lost the election and stated that; “We have to accept the election result, otherwise we do not accept democracy”.

Read the full story on the visit here.

JOMPOPS celebrates citizenship through mother in Nepal

The recent political agreement among major political parties in Nepal decided to grant Nepalese women the right to pass citizenship to their children in the new Constitution. Read the report on the process by Shrishti Rana, DIPD Representative in Nepal.

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Youth Seminar on Inclusiveness and Youth Policy Issues

The November parliamentary elections will be a good opportunity for young people to promote their issues in Myanmar. On July 22nd and 23rd, Myanmar Multiparty Democracy Programme (MMDP), in cooperation with Action Aid Global Platform, held a youth dialogue seminar on inclusiveness and youth policy issues.

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