The Myanmar Times reported on 10 June about Gender Concerns’s establishment of relations with the Union Election Commission (UEC) for the aim of conducting a Gender Election Observation Mission (GEOM) in Myanmar for the upcoming national elections.“The elections, expected in early November, will mark the first occasion that outside foreign observers have been allowed to monitor the election campaign, voting and the period leading up to the formation of a government,”said Chairman of the Union Election Commission, U Tin Aye . The UEC is fostering partnerships with a limited number of international civil society organisations to allow election monitoring to take place. Gender Concerns International as well as the European Union and the Carter Center are among the five organisations which have or will shortly sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the UEC for an election observation mission for the general elections in the country.
Gender Concerns aims to focus its mission specifically on the gender aspect of the elections and female voter participation in the electoral process. Chairman U Tin Aye said in the article that the first election observations in the country require extensive screening of the organisations allowed to come to the country. He added that “We can’t accept all proposals because we have to sign a MoU. It normally takes time to make sure. We can accept a maximum of five for the elections,”
The cooperation between Gender Concerns International and the UEC is the result of a Pre-Election Need Assessment Mission undertaken by a delegation of Gender Concerns to Myanmar last May. The mission explored opportunities both for cooperation with the government during the election period and to collaborate with local partner organisations for long-term partnerships working towards increased participation of women as voters, candidates, government officials and elected leaders. Gender Concerns is presently in communication with potential supporting organisations with hopes of enablement of its gender-focused international programme to Myanmar during a pivotal time for electoral reforms and related women’s democratic inclusion.
For the Myanmar Times interview with Chairman U Tin Aye, see http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/14959-international-gro.