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Managing Myanmar’s natural resources

Beginning 31 Januar, DIPD and the Natural Resource Governance Institute organised a two-day dialogue on federalism and natural resource management. Here 21 political parties from Mandalay region and Shan State convened to share views and policy options.

With the resumption of dialogue on the peace process, political parties are responsible for contributing to the development of policy agreements in a range of areas. One of the most crucial and challenging of these policy areas is natural resource management. How the government manages the revenue from these natural resources, including how it is shared between national and sub-national governments, will be instrumental in determining to what extent this revenue contributes to Myanmar’s development.

To support political parties, as one of the key stakeholders in the peace process, to make a useful contribution to the development of policy frameworks on natural resource management, DIPD and the Natural Resource Governance Institute co-sponsored a two-day dialogue on federalism and natural resource management with 39 leaders of 21 political parties from Mandalay Region and Shan State from 31 January-1 February.  This dialogue helped parties better understand the current situation of natural resource management in Myanmar, global best practices in natural resource management, and policy options that would be relevant for Myanmar’s context.

U Maung Maung Sein, NLD raises a question

During dialogue between the political parties represented, party leaders were able to identify some important areas for reform, such as the need for greater transparency in natural resource management and revenue sharing, the value of sharing natural resource revenues with high-poverty or underserved communities, and how to consider offsetting the negative impact of mining in some communities. Parties also recognized that decentralization of natural resource management was not a panacea in terms of ensuring that the public benefits from natural resources, as demonstrated by the case of Indonesia. The parties agreed to consider more carefully how to divide responsibilities and benefits between national and sub-national governments so that the public benefits optimally from natural resources extracted.

“It should be defined clearly in the constitution how to allocate accountabilities and benefits between central and sub-national governments in natural resource”, reflected by Khun Satt Aung from Pao National Party.

DIPD and NRGI will continue to support parties at the national and sub-national level with technical advice and platforms for dialogue as they provide inputs to the union peace process on natural resource management issues. This support will be crucial in helping parties build consensus on policy positions that are evidence-based and inclusive in providing benefits to all of Myanmar’s citizens.

Group Exercise on the allocation of responsibilities and benefits between central and sub- national governments.

More information

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

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

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

Including women in Myanmar’s peace process

On 2-3 February, DIPD and UNWomen held a two-day forum on women in Myanmar’s peace process. The forum saw representatives from 12 parties convene to increase awareness on issues facing women in conflict situations and to enhance women’s inclusion in the ongoing peace process.

Myanmar’s efforts toward peace, despite some setbacks, remain a beacon of hope for achieving a lasting peace in Myanmar after decades of military rule and conflicts in Myanmar’s ethnic minority regions. The Union Peace Conference, otherwise known as the Panglong Conference, have provided opportunities to a wide range of political parties to hold discussions with the military, ethnic armed groups, and the government on the foundations for achieving a lasting peace. While conflict has yet to abate in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine, these talks have provided an important opportunity to identify possible solutions and compromises that could provide the basis for a more just and stable union.

Despite the relative inclusiveness of the Panglong Conference, women have remained on the margins of the conference, especially as party representatives. Gender activists were successful at encouraging greater inclusion of women among some of the stakeholders but have yet to make significant progress at including women among the party representatives at the conference. For these reasons, DIPD collaborated with UNWomen on 2-3 February in Yangon to hold a two-day forum on women in the peace process with 22 representatives from 12 political parties. The objectives of the forum were to increasing understanding of the issues of women in conflict situations and peace negotiations, and to support parties to develop concrete actions to enhance the inclusion of women and their priorities in the peace process.

“Women participation in peace process still very low and only 13% are women despite the target 30% of women participation in peace process. Not only quantity but also quality is important for meaningful participation of women,” said Nant Khin Aye Oo, Co-secretary of the Kayin Peoples Party.

At the forum, political party representatives, including both senior male and female party leaders, discussed the lack of participation of women in the peace process to date and some strategies to generate greater engagement of women in the process. They also discussed how women experience conflict and insecurity differently and the unique contributions that women can make to the peace process. At the end of the discussion, participants resolved to take a number of steps to enhance the participation of women in the peace process and enhance the consideration of gender issues in the peace process, including conducting  joint workshops to further discuss the issues related to gender perspectives in the peace process, developing an information sharing and exchange mechanism/platform, leading joint efforts needed for increasing the number of women participation and their priorities in the peace process, and lobbying party leaders at the decision making level to develop gender-inclusive policies within the parties and define the roles of women in political parties more concretely.“It is critical that we, starting from men sharing responsibilities in the household, build capacity within the parties, to create more spaces for women participation in peace process,” reflected Tar Hla Phay, a Central Executive Committee Member from the Ta-Arng (Palaung) National Party.

DIPD will continue, as part of our Women In Politics (WIP) programme, to cooperate with political parties, UNWomen and other stakeholders to highlight the issue of gender inclusiveness in the peace talks, and to support parties to promote the participation of women in the process and the meaningful consideration of gender issues during the talks.

More information

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

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

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

Promoting leadership of women at local level

JOMPOPS has started a new partnership with the Election Commission of Nepal (ECN) to promote leadership of women at local level with technical support from DIPD and the Governance Facility.

On 30 and 31 January 2017, a preparatory orientation programme for the local level training of women political leaders was held in Kathmandu essentially to finalize the content as well as to develop implementation plan for a series of multiparty local level training for women.

Political Context: Local Elections in the Offing

The new Constitution declared in September 2015 stipulates that three new elections viz. national, provincial, and local need to be held by February 2018. Given the long gap in holding of the local elections (the last local elections were held in 1997), political parties have decided to prioritize the local elections first.

In this situation, JOMPOPS felt that empowering women to contest local elections is crucial because the new Constitution guarantees around 40 % representation of women in the elected local level bodies. To achieve this objective, JOMPOPS decided to partner with the Election Commission of Nepal because it is a constitutionally mandated body to ensure representation of women in the elected local bodies as per the provision of the new Constitution.

Empowering Women to Contest Elections

One of the reasons why women political leaders at the local level hesitate to contest the local elections is because they are not fully aware about the technical processes of contesting an election. Most often, they are also not updated about the new legal provisions regarding women’s representation at the local level. Therefore, JOMPOPS designed a training programme for women leaders at the local level that would orient them about the necessary technical processes about contesting an election such as filing of candidacy.

Accordingly, JOMPOPS requested the Election Commission of Nepal to implement multiparty training for women at the local level focusing on those technical processes about the elections. ECN and JOMPOPS also agreed to cover necessary legal information and practical tips for succeeding in the elections from experienced political leaders in the planned training.

To start with, JOMPOPS and ECN agreed to conduct a pilot programme selecting seven districts from the seven federal provinces. The main objectives of the training were outlined as – inspiring women at the local level to contest elections and providing them with key technical/legal knowledge to contest the elections.

Participants with senior politicians and senior ECN officials.

Preparing for the Local Level Programme

In preparation for these local level training, on 30-31 January the ECN organized an orientation programme to finalize the content of the pilot local level training as well as to draw up an implementation plan. Three participants including the district’s top election official, the District Election Officer, as well as Gender Focal Person and one additional person came from each district from the seven provinces.

As the programme covered all the seven provinces, participants reflected rich ethnic diversity of Nepal. Out of these seven districts, two (Bajura and Kalikot) are geographically backward with low ranking in all the indicators of human development. The six participants from these districts had to travel for days before reaching the capital for the programme.

The opening session of the programme was attended by senior politicians and parliamentarians from JOMPOPS parties and high-level officials from the ECN including the Chief Election Commissioner. All the speakers during this session emphasized on the importance of the training for women at the local level particularly in the context of the upcoming local elections.

Former UNIFEM Director Chandni Joshi took a session on gender, explaining the importance of the representation of women at the local level to the participants.  Participants also worked together in groups to finalize the content for the local level training on the election-related issues such as introduction to elections, gender and elections, filing of candidacy, contesting elections, and practical election session.

The entire session plans for all the five election modules were presented the next day in a plenary session; these session plans along with the corresponding presentations had been finalized with inputs from Gender Coordinators from the JOMPOPS parties.  The participants were also trained by a facilitation expert on how to deliver these modules effectively.

On the final day of the two-day programme, the participants finalized the programme for the local level training as well as agreed on the necessary details for its implementation. Given the early possibility of the local elections, participants agreed to conduct the local level programme as early as possible.

According to Navaraj Dhakal, the Joint Secretary of the ECN, tens of thousands of women need to be elected in the local bodies as per the provisions of the new Constitution for which, depending on the parties that will join the fray, hundreds of thousands of potential female leaders need to file their candidacy. All major parties admit that they do not have enough women inside the party trained to contest the elections. Therefore, series of training like the one planned is considered crucial in ensuring representation of women in leadership positions at the local level, which is the political base at which leadership gets nurtured, and grows and emerges for the upper tiers.

Participants from remote districts of Nepal who had to travel for days to reach Kathmandu.

More information

Contact DIPD Country Coordinator in Nepal, Shristi Rana: shristi@dipd.org.np