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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

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