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Myanmar: Fear for Safety and Security of Women Parliamentarians and Civil Society Leaders

March 2, 2021

The Myanmar Ambassador to the UN, U Kyaw Moe Tun, was fired soon after he made an inspiring and praiseworthy appeal to the International Community for help to restore democracy. This action shows not only the extent of the military power that is being exercised against high-ranking government representatives but also it highlights the invisibility of brutality that is underway against pro-democracy civil leadership.

The immense bravery of political and civil society leaders that led them to structures of power and empowerment post 2015 elections proved to be short lived only till the next election held in 2020.

The 1st February Coup has made Myanmar again an insecure and an isolated place. Cordoned-off under military dictatorship, people in Myanmar are once getting organized for their pro-democracy quest, demanding respect for their vote and asking the International Community for support.

It is high time that the world acknowledges that the female political and civil society leaders, who since 2015 have been so positive about the era of difficulties being over and the epoch of democracy beginning, are once again facing the fear of hard times ahead.

Having observed the elections in 2015, supported by the Dutch Embassy in Myanmar, Gender Concerns International launched a series of post-election activities in collaboration with national institutions and it supported partnership with women and other civil society organisations.

The teams and experts were deployed to train parliamentarians to facilitate interaction among women organizations, national institutions, and the parliamentarians. People were motivated as the scope for democracy had become real, and they were hopeful of the opportunities that this would bring.

The protests in Myanmar have shown that the urge for democracy and civilian rule is as high as it was ever in Myanmar and the International Community must play its role urgently. Gender Concerns International expresses its continued support to the democracy movement and pledges its commitment to strengthening the national institution and civil society organisations in Myanmar.

Myanmar Elections

November 6, 2020

Myanmar Election 2020: A joint responsibility to advance on the current 11% of women parliamentarians! #GEOM #MyanmarElections #2020 #ElectionObservation #UEC #CarterCenter

Dire position of women in Myanmar: ‘A silent emergency’

March 4, 2020

Violence towards women is widespread and normalized within Myanmar, as the number of rape victims is rising each year alongside greater police inaction and social stigma. The situation has been described as a ‘silent emergency’ by the UN, but no further action has been taken. In January 2020, the government published an updated draft of the National Prevention and Protection of Violence Against Women law, yet, women’s organizations note that it only includes slight improvements from the previous one, therefore, they doubt that it will be effectively implemented and demand more amendments to ensure women’s protection.

Women’s organizations draw attention to and condemn the armed conflict taking place in the Mutraw district of the Karen state, caused by plans of expansion of the Burma road. Despite the ceasefire agreement, the indiscriminate violence going on has forced the displacement of almost 300 families living in the area, placing in danger thousands of women and children.

The Rohingya population, especially the women, are threatened by the government’s dismissal of the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding the prevention of the genocide of Rohingya Muslims on the grounds of presenting a distorted image of the situation. Further protections can shield women from the potential of being raped, trafficked for sex, or even killed on the basis of their ethnicity and religion.

Gender Concerns International calls for greater action that is urgently needed to address these threats, protect women during conflicts and help raise women’s socioeconomic position. Important efforts are being made by civil society organizations to improve women’s living conditions and societal role.

Myanmar, Women and Peace

August 13, 2016

Aung San Suu Kyi Opens Historic 21st Century Panglong Conference

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the opening ceremony of the 21st Century Panglong Conference

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s leading voice for peace and democracy, opened-up the 21st Century Panglong Conference today in capital city Naypyitaw, an event aimed at reaching comprehensive peace in the conflict-torn country. In her opening speech, she called on the importance of unity and reconciliation for Myanmar’s future stating: “Only if we are all united, our country will be at peace. Only if our country is at peace, will we be able to stand on equal footing with other countries in our region and across the world.”

The Panglong Conference is attended by multiple stakeholders including women's organisations. Gender Concerns International supports the participation of female leaders at this conference and their contribution to the proceedings and outcome of this 5 days long multi-stakeholders interaction.

Female leaders and local partners at the 21st Century Panglong Conference

H.E. Ambassador Jurgens as the Guest of Honor at High Level Consultation

On 22nd August 2016, Gender Concerns facilitated a high level consultation with Women’s Organisations in Myanmar. The event took place at the Best Western Green Hill Hotel in Yangon. It was an honour that the first resident Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Myanmar, H.E. Wouter Jurgens, attended as the guest of honour. H.E. Wouter Jurgens commended the work of Gender Concerns International in Myanmar and emphasised the importance of active engagement by Women’s Organisations in the post-election phase.

Guest of Honor, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, H.E. Wouter Jurgens addressing the meeting

All participants were pleased with the event and the religious and ethnic diversity of the participants. The attending women agreed that regular meetings of Women’s Organisations are important to provide women with a platform to discuss a unified way forward. Moreover, the participants agreed that Gender Focused Electoral Reform should be a priority. The aim of the consultation was to promote women’s free and fair electoral engagement, paving the way for inclusive women’s participation throughout the electoral cycle.

Programme Coordinator, Anne Flake, opened the event by welcoming all participants and invited them to give their valuable input. Representatives from leading Women’s Organisations and networks attended the consultation, including WON, the Myanmar Institute for Gender Studies and AGIPP. The engaged discussions were led by Daw Khin Ma Ma Myo, a well-respected expert on gender, development and international relations. On the agenda were discussions on the ‘Barriers of women organisations to fully participate in electoral process’ and the ‘Perspectives of women organisations on gender-focused electoral reform’. Female leaders of Key Women’s Organisations have evaluated and analysed the relevant recommendations made by various stakeholders and have come up with a follow-up Action Plan expecting support from Gender Concerns International and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Myanmar.

The participants of the high level consultation

GEOM Report Launch in Yangoon, Myanmar

On the 7th of June, Gender Concerns International will launch their Gender Election Observation Mission 2015 Report "The Dawn of Inclusive Governance in Myanmar". The launch, to be held in Novotel Hotel in Yangoon, Myanmar, provides opportunities for Gender Concerns to share, evaluate and discuss important topics related to political participation of women in Myanmar.

The 2015 Gender Election Observation Mission (GEOM) Report will be presented, and recommendations to national and international stakeholders will be shared. Representatives of the UEC, Women and Civil Society Organisations, and members of the international community confirmed their attendance, and will engage in discussions on women’s social and political participation in Myanmar.

The report launch will signal a new dawn in the process of Myanmar women’s political and social participation by fostering conducive environment for enhanced women’s political participation and gender-focused electoral reform strategies.

Gender Concerns International Myanmar Team Attends UEC National Conference

March 16, 2016

From the 29 February - 1 March 2016 the team from Gender Concerns International Myanmar office attended the UEC National Post Election Conference. Staff attended a variety of breakout sessions including 'Gender Equality', 'Election Observation' and a variety of plenary sessions. A side meeting was also held with the Union Election Commissioner in charge of International Observation, Dr. Daw Myint Kyi. Issues discussed included future engagement with the UEC, the current Memorandum of Understanding, female representation in the UEC and need for capacity-building on gender issues within the government and the UEC.

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