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Posts from the ‘Myanmar’ Category

Combating Gender Based Violence in Myanmar

How can women in political parties in Myanmar support the campaign to end gender based violence?

While Myanmar is a signatory to The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) since 1997 and adopted the National Strategic Plan for Women Advancement (2013-2022) combat violence against women, there are no specific laws exist to address the issues of gender based violence. In recent years, the Government of Myanmar has worked with the Gender Equality Network and the UN to draft the Protection and Prevention of Violence against Women (PoVAW) Bill, which stipulates the need to protect women from all forms of violence. In this regard, the role of political parties to coordinate voices to advocate on gender based violence issues is crucial.

With the objectives of providing space for political parties to discuss their coordination and advocacy role on sharing updated information on the legislative process and reach consensus on common priority actions, MMDP organized a multi-party women forum on 3rd-4th July at Green Hill Hotel in Yangon. This forum also served as a platform for multiparty women and will be held as a series to discuss women related issues.

Dr. Mya Thaung, the Chair of Women and Children Rights Committee of the Upper House of Parliament delivered the opening speech and shared the challenges and the current action that has been taken by the Committee. During the forum, leading organizations on the legislative process such as Gender Equality Network and UN Women shared the country situation on gender based violence including facts and figures and international best practices, including strengthening legal and policy frameworks and the role of political party and how they can advocate. Ma Soe Soe Htay from the Arakan League for Democracy said “Cooperation with stakeholders is important to increase the public awareness on GBV issues and mapping the service providers across the region.”

An interactive panel discussion during the event focused on effective strategies and advocacy roles of political parties was led by Naw Hla Hla Soe, Secretary of Women and Children Rights Committee and MP from the Women and Children Rights Committee from the Upper House of Parliament, Ma Nan Phyu Phyu Lin, Advisor from Gender Equality Network and U Myint Thwin, Legal Advisor. Daw Maran Ja Seng Hkwan, MP from the Kachin State Parliament, also discussed, “it is the role of the political party to monitor the judicial system to combat corruption and increase access to justice for victims of GBV.” At the end of the event, parties released a joint statement including priority actions such as advocating on implementing gender responsive party policies to combat GBV, increasing public awareness on GBV, and establishing monitoring mechanisms to track access to justice for victims of GBV.

Available for Downloads: 2016 Annual Report on the Myanmar Multiparty Democracy Programme

The 2016 annual report on the Myanmar Multiparty Democracy Programme is now available online. Download the report to learn more about DIPD’s work on multiparty dialogue, women and youth in politics as well as the role of political parties and media in raising the public voice in Myanmar.

2016 was a remarkable year in Myanmar’s democratic development, defined by multiple political milestones in the wake of the 2015 parliamentary elections. The most notable was the peaceful handover of power from the Union Solidarity and Development Party to the National League for Democracy and the swearing in of the first elected civilian president. The new civilian administration inherited a country that has been struggling for a political solution to almost 70 years of armed conflict that has devastated the lives of minority communities and held back Myanmar as a whole. The first nationwide peace conference was held on 31 August with participation of nearly all armed groups as well as the government, military and political parties. Meanwhile 13 parties are represented in the national parliament, and the majority of seats are held by the governing party NLD.

In this setting, multiparty dialogue and cross-party cooperation is crucial in ensuring that all voices of society are included in the political processes determining the developments of Myanmar. Thus in 2016, DIPD in Myanmar stepped up its efforts to facilitate multiparty dialogue and cross-party cooperation on issues of joint concern. It has been promising to witness the political parties’ strong engagement in the dialogues on issues including natural resource revenue management, local elections, youth policy, and campaign finance reform. Results have been noticeable in the field of providing useful policy proposals to the municipal reform and the formulation of the national youth policy.

After the intense election campaign phase, the political parties are increasingly focusing on the other core functions of political parties and are now developing their party organisations and political policies in light of the new political dispensation. DIPD has responded to this by providing capacity building support in several fields, including training on media and public relations as well as on building the profiles of political parties as representative and accountable democratic institutions.

In 2016, DIPD enjoyed a strong partnership with the political parties in Myanmar and with the key national stakeholders in the electoral processes notably the UEC, civil society organisations and the media. Moreover, the continued collaboration with several international agencies was also important for our outreach and in particular the cooperation established in STEP Democracy supported by the EU.

More information

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

Contact DIPD’s Country Coordinator in Myanmar, Khin Thazin Myint:

Contact DIPD’s Senior Advisor, Hanne Lund Madsen:

Policy Advocacy and Budget Monitoring in Myanmar

The Myanmar Multiparty Democracy Programme (MMDP) conducted a two days capacity building session on “Policy Advocacy and Budget Monitoring’ for the political party youth in Kachin State on 3-4 May. The event supported political party youth to understand how to advocate on Myanmar’s National Youth Policy, raising awareness on budget processes at regional and state level including how to monitor it make the budget process more responsive to youth demands. Youth representatives from the National Youth Policy drafting committee also briefed the participants on the current process of making the Myanmar National Youth Policy. The event was held from 3rd to 4th May 2017 at Myitkyina, Kachin State.

A total of 43 youth from 14 political parties attended with 36 percent of the participants being young women. U Zaw Win, member of parliament form the Kachin State Parliament and the Chairperson of Public Finance and Accounts Committee shared the process of how state budget allocations work and the political party youth had a chance to asked questions and reports on their local issues. Local partners Naushawng Development Institute (NDI) and Kachin State Youth Network (KSYN) facilitated a discussion among the participants on their role in budget advocacy.

According to U Zaw Win, Budget monitoring is everyone’s responsibility. The member of national youth policy drafting committee and the youth coordinator of DIPD shared the process of National Youth Policy and the local youth policy timelines and drafting process. “Who will be effectives from National Youth Policy and is it only for one Ethnic group? asked by Maran Bran Shawng from Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). That is the main concern from ethnic group on adopting process of Myanmar National Youth Policy. They have a chance to be raising their feedback on consultation process of youth policy in coming June to July.

The trainer Pyae Phyo Aung from the Way partner of DIPD explained the meaning of advocacy and tools for political party youth with good examples, the process and type of advocacy. The female participant, Taung Alay Mie from Lisu National Development Party said” The training is really effective because we got a lot of advocacy tools, knowledge and information.

The DIPD will continue to support political party youth to increase their meaningful participation concerns in the Myanmar Youth Policy process and in the budget monitoring. This support will contribute to enhancing the abilities of parties to ensure that youth policies and government budgets reflect the concerns of their youth constituents throughout the country.

Reporting on Peace and Conflict in Kachin

Is there press freedom under the new government? Are the media and political parties able to channel the voices of citizens living in conflict situations? These questions are very crucial for the media and parties wrestling with such challenges in Myanmar today.

To understand these questions, and to promote dialogue between parties and the media on these issues, DIPD and the Myanmar Press Council (MPC), jointly organized a dialogue on “Reporting on Peace and Conflict: Enhancing People’s Voice and Accountability” in Myitkyina, Kachin State, one of Myanmar’s conflict-affected regions, from 30 April-1 May. During the course of the two days, representatives of the MPC shared information on press freedom, the media law, and the role of media in reporting on conflict. The group of media and parties identified the challenges and discussed possible solutions to generate more effective and people-centered reporting on the peace process and ongoing conflicts.  As U Thiha Saw of the MPC explained, “The media has to raise the public’s voice to increase accountability.”

During a panel discussion on the second day panel discussion, Lamai Gum Ja, a member of the Peace Talk Creation Group, U La Seng Aung, Senior Research and Lecturer of Naushawng Development Institute, U Kyaw Swa Min, co-secretary of Myanmar Press Council and Maran Seng Mai, the Chief Editor of Myitkyina News Journal held an open discussion on accountability in reporting on peace process and ongoing conflict situations. The participants raised questions on the Kachin peace process to the panelists and discussed their view on the talks of panelists.

Media in Kachin State highlighted that the regional government has seldom communicate with media in one year of their term. So Media and parties discussed the way to strengthen relationship between media and regional government in this workshop.

A total of 47 persons from 13 political parties and media groups participated in the event. In response to the issues discussed, participants committed to provide more publicity for the voices of members of the public affected by conflict. The participants also resolved to hold more regular dialogues on issues affecting different communities in Kachin State in order to promote public discussion of priority demands of the public.

Innovations and Inspiration in Party Building

Two political party pioneers in party building visited DIPD and the Myanmar political parties for frank and inspiring talks on party building with an innovative approach.

With the conclusion of the April by elections in Myanmar, political parties now have a three-year window before the next general elections. During this period, political parties will have an opportunity to re-organize, strategize and remake themselves in advance of the 2020 elections. As Myanmar’s political parties are relatively recently established or re-established, this window also provides a valuable opportunity for parties to concentrate on strengthening themselves to serve as more robust and participatory institutions. To provide inspiration to parties to take advantage of this opportunity, at the beginning of May DIPD hosted a delegation of party leaders from two of the fastest growing and most innovative parties in its network—the Alternative Party of Denmark and the Aam Aadmi Party of India.

Creativity in Party Building

Both the Alternative Party and the Aam Aadmi Party were formed in the last five years. They have used innovative methods to attract members and win voters. The Alternative won nine seats in Denmark’s Parliament, and the Aam Aadmi Party became the dominant party in Delhi’s Assembly. The Alternative has used creative methods to increase public participation, such as their policy laboratories to develop their party’s platform. Aam Aadmi uses new technology for transparent and ethical financing of its campaigns, which has attracted voters dissatisfied with vote buying and other unethical practices in Indian campaigns.  Each of these parties demonstrates how using creative new approaches can not only lead to more ethical campaigns and greater participation, but can also be winning strategies for parties.

Reaching out to new communities and constituencies

DIPD held a series of bilateral technical advisory sessions with political party leaders and political party alliance leaders, where the Alternative’s Tom Richter Hansen and Aam Aaadmi’s Raghav Chadha shared ideas and inspiration from their experiences in political party building and development. Myanmar’s political parties were particularly interested in the way in which the two parties had used new technologies for communication and new strategies to reach out to constituents to grow their membership and generate support from the younger generation. Raghav Chadha shared how Aam Aadmi had reached out to universities to generate greater youth participation, while also nominating young candidates to give young people an opportunity as representatives. Drawing on the Alternative’s innovative strategies, Tom Richter Hansen discussed how parties can increase participation by inviting the public to participate in policy formulation for the party, and also encourage party members to engage based on their specific policy interests.

Turning the challenges into opportunities

Party representatives participating in the bilateral meetings raised a number of interesting questions and ideas, claiming that the exchanges with the delegation were “quite useful” as they “consider lessons of how to reform themselves.” The party representatives also expressed interest in Aam Aadmi’s approaches for selecting clean candidates. In the area of reaching out to members and supporters, both Aam Aadmi’s techniques of using technology to cultivate a broader base of supporters and the Alternative’s intensive engagement of both members and non-members in policy program development contained useful lessons for Myanmar’s parties. On the final day of the delegation visit, the two visiting politicians shared ideas on a number of topics including party finance, party organizational development, and party communications with a multiparty group of political party leaders.

The innovations and inspiration shared by the delegation comes at an opportune time for parties as they have a chance to strategize and prepare for their political future. As U Tin Oo, the patron of the National League for Democracy remarked, “DIPD always gives us food for thought.” DIPD will continue to work with parties to provide technical support on how to incorporate relevant ideas communicated during the visit, helping parties to institutionalize themselves in a democratic and sustainable fashion.