Nant May Nandar Kyaw, Cohort 2018
Ethnic women from Myanmar have experienced particular human rights violations related to conflicts such as violence and harassment, with limited opportunity to speak out. The objective of this thesis is to learn more about women’s experiences in political skills empowerment and to assess the impact of the training led by women’s rights-based organizations in Kayin State, Myanmar. The research uses in-depth interview methodology, interviewing fourteen key-informants.
Interview findings show that many interviewees felt that women’s participation in voting, local-level politics and peace processes have improved after the 2015 NCA and the general elections, highlighting the particular impact of peace and democracy for marginalized groups. Besides, respondents felt that domestic violence and human rights violations cases are more monitored than before 2015 due to communities’ increased awareness of women’s rights. The research also found that as a result of the training, trained women have been better to engage with different key actors and more equipped in the decision-making process in communities. The trained women more involved in legal assistance for human rights violations, but often, this focuses solely on issues that specifically related to women. Besides, while they note improvements to women participating more in local-level political and peace processes, overall, women have less confidence and capacity to participate, gender discrimination, Government’s weak initiatives, and face financial restraints, and only a few women become leaders in local-level politics.
The research also found that the key barriers for women are linguistic, lack of capacity, and limited access to information, as well as based on socio-cultural norms that prioritize men’s leadership and decision-making and government’s initiative for women’s political skills is low.
The research recommends on-going coaching and mentoring for women, and advocacy against gender discrimination at all spheres mainly at the local and national political level, in order to increase women’s participation in political processes at all levels. The Government also should formulate law and policy to provide at least thirty percentage reservations for women in politics and peace process. Government and political parties must take the initiative on women’s political skills empowerment in line with CEDAW and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
Key words: Gender equality; political skills; women empowerment and advancement; engagement; key actors; peace process; political participation