Gender Concerns International launched its new initiative in Myanmar under 'Women and Peace Progress' (WPP) programme. WPP aims to promote gender-inclusive peace process and a credible democracy in Myanmar. The programme supports women organisations and female parliamentarians through a range of activities, including facilitating interactions between them, organizing high level consultations and conducting workshops.
Myanmar has made great advances towards a peaceful future; however, women's participation in the peace process remain low. At the 21st Panglong Conference, women only constituted 13 percent of the participants which is well below the international standard of 30 percent outlined in the Beijing Platform for Action. The programme is an important step towards women's inclusion in the peace process by strengthening women's organisations and engaging female parliamentarians in the upcoming peace talks. The initiative is supported by Heinrich Boell Foundation.
After a successful pre-election assessment, Gender Concerns International conducted a GEOM during the November elections. Full details on the programme can be found at:
Ms. Sabra Bano, Director of Gender Concerns International, explained earlier this year:
‘Myanmar is going to have its first democratic general
elections. Although Myanmar made some progress in 2008, when the SPDC announced
that a referendum for the new Constitution would be held and elections by 2010,
Myanmar is still far from democratic. Gender Concerns wants to become active in
the country to help build the capacity of women’s organisations to improve
electoral and political participation of women. We can encourage and support
existing networks with our experience with monitoring elections and
strengthening women, so that local organisations can learn how to influence and
As a follow-up to an invitation from the Union Election Commission of Myanmar, a delegation of Gender Concerns International experts conducted a Pre-Election Needs Assessment Mission (PNAM) from April to May 2015.
Assessed were the needs and opportunities for launching a Gender Election Observation Mission (GEOM) to work directly with local women’s organisations to promote inclusive governance and female leadership. Meetings were held with various stakeholders from the International diplomatic community, the Union Election Commission and women’s and civil society organisations.
The PNAM revealed a lack of a gender-specific democracy programme and identified a crucial need to support women’s electoral participation through a focused initiative such as the GEOM.