Country in Focus: Myanmar

Myanmar has a long history of unrest, discrimination and political upheavals. After the coupe d’état in 1962, the junta remained in power in Myanmar for forty-eight years. By the year 2010, the time was ripe for asocio-political change in Myanmar. Thus, the first general elections in more than twenty-five years were held and were meant to signal the transition from military rule to a civilian democracy. Unfortunately, this endeavor failed as accusations of fraud and corruption riddled the process. As a result, the elections were boycotted by the main opposition group, the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi. Despite these obstacles, a nominally civilian government was brought to power in 2011 led by President Thein Sein, a general who served under the junta. Of importance is the fact that while the junta was replaced by a civilian regime, the same individuals who served in the junta now served in the new regime.

Notwithstanding this controversial start towards a new democracy, reforms initiated by the regime led to a belief that decades of international isolation would soon be coming to an end. To further promote this belief, general elections took place in October 2015. The positive impact of successful election campaigns may be felt for many years to come. It will help ensure the continuing processes of obtaining gender equality for women in Myanmar, as well as creating a socio-political landscape which espouses equality, a dedication to human rights and productive economic institutions.

In light of these events, we must direct our attention to the impact it has had on women and women’s rights. Women’s organisations and other civil society organisations are closely involved in political processes to ensure that the voices of women are heard. Gender Concerns International has dedicated itself to the support of these organizations and the various strategies they initiate.

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