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DIPD and IDEA promote discussion of campaign and party finance reform

In the wake of the landmark November parliamentary elections in Myanmar, political parties, observers, and the Union Election Commission (UEC) have convened discussions to reflect on the successes and failures of those elections.  While these elections represented an outstanding achievement, especially given the context in which they were held, numerous challenges remain to build a strong and resilient electoral process for elections to come. One aspect of the electoral process that has received relatively little attention is campaign finance, and its related challenge, political party finance.

DIPD-IDEA joint presentation on political finance

To address gaps in the campaign and party finance regulatory framework, DIPD commissioned a study by independent consultant Aung Tun on party perspectives on campaign and party finance in the recently concluded electoral process. The study identified a number of areas of campaign and party finance for reform, and also made proposals to make the system more transparent, credible and egalitarian. Some of the ideas proposed included: considering public finance for candidates or parties as a means to create a more level playing field; promoting better enforcement of campaign and party finance regulation through auditing of expenditure reports; and making the campaign finance expenditure reporting processes easier for candidates and parties.

A repsentative from Charity Oriented Myanmar raising questions

On 20th May, DIPD convened discussions with political parties and civil society to present the findings of its research and promote dialogue and consensus-building on reform of campaign and party finance. At these discussions, co-sponsored by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, DIPD and IDEA highlighted the results of their studies on campaign and party finance and listened to feedback and exchange of ideas among political parties. At the end of the session, parties agreed to establish a working group to continue discussion on the issues and make proposals to the UEC and other stakeholders for reform.

A political party representative giving feedbacks

The following week, DIPD and IDEA made a joint presentation of their findings to the new Chairperson and Commissioners of the Union Election Commission in Nay Pyi Taw on 23rd May. The subsequent discussion was lively and provided an opportunity to exchange ideas on possible reforms and their timing. DIPD and IDEA will continue to work together with parties, the UEC, observers, and other stakeholders from civil society to explore possibilities for party and campaign finance reform.

More information

Read more about DIPD’s work in Myanmar, where we are part of the EU supported STEP Democracy Programme.

Contact DIPD’s Myanmar Country Coordinator, Khin Thazin Myint: ktzm@dipd.dk

Contact Senior Advisor at DIPD, Hanne Lund Madsen: hlm@dipd.dk

Parties in Nepal working together to end violence against women

JOMPOPS collaborated with the National Women’s Commission (NWC) in Nepal to conduct a campaign on ending violence against women in Itharai, Sunsari district in the Eastern part of Nepal.

 

Report by Shrishti Rana, DIPD Representative in Nepal

 

Violence is increasing

Violence against women has been increasing at an alarming rate in Nepal. For example, every year an estimated 20,000 women (some as young as nine years) are trafficked to India and the Gulf countries for forced sex or prostitution. Activists claim female foeticide is increasing, mainly in urban areas, and now runs at about 50,000 deaths a year. The number of women being killed for dowry or claims of witchcraft is equally high.

In the recent days, several legislative reforms have been introduced to eliminate violence against women. International development partners have also supported several interventions to end gender-based violence. However, violence against women continues to be pervasive in Nepal and is unfortunately on the increase.

In this context, in March 2014, JOMPOPS selected ending ‘violence against women’ as one of the issues for multiparty collaboration. Since then, the parties have initiated several campaigns on this issue. JOMPOPS members who are parliamentarians have also initiated legislative reforms such as passing of the Anti-Witch Craft Act and the Act against Sexual Harassment in the workplace.

On 18 May 2016, JOMPOPS supported the National Women’s Commission to conduct a public hearing programme focusing on eliminating customary practices related to gender-based violence in Sunsari district. During the programme, JOMPOPS members also emphasized the importance of the multiparty collaboration in eliminating violence against women in Sunsari district.

Multiparty Programme at local level

The programme was chaired by the Acting Chairperson of the National Women’s Commission, Ms. Bhagawati Ghimire. Senior government officials of the district including the Chief District Officer, Local Development Officer, and security officials were also invited as they represented the main law enforcement agencies.

Around 118 participants mainly local political party members attended the programme. JOMPOPS Steering Committee member Parshuram Meghi Gurung from the CPN-UML party opened the progarmme, explaining the background of JOMPOPS and its continuing collaboration on ending violence against women campaign. Meghi explained that it was not possible to ensure gender equality as envisaged by the new Constitution of Nepal without ending violence against women in Nepal. He also emphasized the importance of multiparty collaboration at local level to address this problem.

Similarly, JOMPOPS member Renu Chand pointed out the necessity of engaging men on solving the problem. She also asserted that multiparty collaboration is essential to make the campaign successful.

NWC officials informed the participants about the current trends of violence against women in the district, and also explained about the new legislations and the government programmes on the issue. Public hearing on the issue was also conducted by the NWC officials.

Finally, all the local participants including the government officials and the members of various major political parties signed the commitment on taking necessary action to end existing violence against women in Sunsari district.

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Moving forward to change things

The event was organized with limited resources. DIPD had coordinated with UN Women to develop necessary resource materials for distribution to the participants. Similarly, the Danish-funded Governance Facility’s partner was approached to provide an expert to moderate the public hearing programme.

Change does not happen overnight, but it is still important to take note of even small achievements like the following, resulting from this kind of multiparty initiative:

The programme brought political party members and government officials together in Sunsari district to discuss the problem of increasing violence against women in the district. More importantly, they committed to work together to solve the existing problem by publicly signing the campaign.

The programme also gave an opportunity for the local people to share their concerns to senior NWC officials and senior party leaders from JOMPOPS. JOMPOPS member Parshuram Meghi said:

“The most important achievement of the programme is that we were able to convince the local party members that violence against women is a serious issue that needs to be solved. Also that political parties there need to work together to solve the problem the way we are collaborating in Kathmandu. These party members have publicly committed to work together in Sunsari district.”

For more information on DIPDs work in Nepal contact DIPD representative Shristi Rana 

Independent Evaluation of DIPD

DIPD is currently conducting a global independent evaluation of DIPDs work with thematic focus on Youth in Politics and including both multiparty and party projects for in-depth assessment.

Photo: Evaluation visit in Palestine.

The evaluation is a learning evaluation and will among other focus on how DIPD implements its strategy “ Ideas that inspire”, how effective the projects are and which overall change paths are pursued. Moreover, the evaluation will look at how the party to party and multiparty projects work with capacity development of political parties to perform in a representative and accountable manner and how the partnership approach of DIPD is functioning.

The youth projects function as an entry to assess how DIPD operates. In the multiparty pool Egypt and Myanmar have strong youth components. Moreover, the party project in Kenya focusing on youth is conducted with a multiparty platform. Also in Palestine (Red-Green Alliance & International Forum of the Left), the engagement is with three different political parties on the left seeking to establish a joint youth platform.

Strong youth components also exist in the project in Palestine, whereas Tanzania (K) and Swaziland are less pronounced. Finally, youth forms part of a broader agenda in Egypt (S); Zambia (V) and Tanzania (RV), Bolivia (SF). On this basis it has been agreed that project visits be made to Palestine and Kenya, and that the youth component in Myanmar and Egypt be studied in depth through skype and other means.

The evaluation team is comprised of Jørn Holm- Hansen, Senior Researcher, and Marit Haug, Researcher, at the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research. An evaluation consultation visit has just been conducted in Palestine. In their meetings with relevant stakeholders they were accompanied by the youth coordinator of Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) Kenya, Range Mwita, so as to offer expertise to the evaluation team and to have peer- to –peer and south-south learning.

Throughout the process the evaluation team is working closely with an Evaluation Group established by DIPD, which includes participants from the Danish Political Parties. Moreover, the political party expert Michael Wahman, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Missouri, has offered to act as peer reviewer. The evaluation report is expected to be available in October 2016.

For more information:

Contact Hanne Lund Madsen, Senior Advisor, DIPD at: hlm@dipd.dk

Parties put women on the Myanmar agenda

While the global conference, Women Deliver, leaves Copenhagen, Myanmar’s parties continue to promote the role of women in politics.

In the slipstream of the global Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen, DIPD invited Dr. Mya Thaung, Chairman of the Women & Children’s Rights Committee in Myanmar’s Upper House, and Dr. Khin Nyo, member of the Health and Sports Committee in the Lower House, for a discussion on how to promote the role of women in politics within the newly formed parliament in Myanmar.

Mya Thaung has shown a keen interest in DIPD’s local efforts and acted as the keynote speaker at the beginning of March, when DIPD organized a regional seminar to provide political parties  with the opportunity to share strategies on how to increase opportunities for women’s representation in politics and political parties. Here, Thaung noted that “we all have to work to together to have more women participating in politics”.

That message was repeated today, as he discussed how the new NLD-led parliament can put women’s rights and participation on the agenda, and how DIPD can help facilitate cross-political dialogue among female parliamentarians.

Women ascending

During the March conference, which coincided with the International Women’s Day, parliamentarians from three DIPD partner countries, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan, as well as Denmark, shared valuable experiences, ideas and strategies. Even though women remain hugely underrepresented in parliaments in the region, the November 2015 parliamentary election in Myanmar was a big step forward for women’s political participation in the country. Here, the number of elected women tripled and now stands at 13 %, and women made a big impact in party campaigns and polling station management.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD was one of the frontrunners when it came to both female and youth participation during the elections. However, the new band of ministers remain largely male, with Aung San Suu Kyi being the only female minister. The road ahead therefore remains long and the need for gender balancing is still very current.

Strengthening dialogue

Promoting women’s participation in politics therefore continues to be a strategic focus for DIPD and the Myanmar Multiparty Democracy Programme. Working together with political parties, parliamentary committees and local women’s networks, DIPD are eager to facilitate cross-party dialogue on how to advance national agenda setting on women, how parties can become more gender responsive as well as develop the capacities of female party members through mentoring and networking.

Read the report from the Women’s conference here.

Read more about DIPD’s work in Myanmar, where we are part of the EU supported STEP Democracy Programme.

Annual Report 2015 – Postcards from the Field

Postcards are not long and detailed, but they highlight the excitement you feel when experiencing something unusual and memorable. This year we asked all our partners to tell one brief story for the Annual Report, to get a sense of what they think has made a difference.

Read more