Al­liance wants cre­ation of com­mit­tee to push for women in peace process

The Myanmar Times - - News - THU THU AUNG thuthuaung@mm­

THE Al­liance for Gen­der In­clu­sion in the Peace Process (AGIPP) is de­mand­ing that a com­mit­tee be formed to mon­i­tor is­sues of gen­der equal­ity and women’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the peace process, in­clud­ing a com­ing po­lit­i­cal dia­logue.

Calls for im­ple­men­ta­tion of a min­i­mum 30 per­cent quota for fe­male par­tic­i­pants were not heeded for last week’s 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence, which saw an over­whelm­ingly male ros­ter of at­ten­dees gather in Nay Pyi Taw for four days of speeches.

In a state­ment pub­lished Septem­ber 3, AGIPP ac­knowl­edged im­prove­ment com­pared with a sim­i­lar peace con­fer­ence held in Jan­uary, but pushed for more women’s in­clu­sion.

“At the 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence, women’s par­tic­i­pa­tion rose up to 13pc from 7pc at the Union Peace Con­fer­ence, which was held in Jan­uary. But it is still nec­es­sary to reach for the agreed 30pc quota,” said Nang Phyu Phyu Lin, a mem­ber of AGIPP who was granted ob­server sta­tus at last week’s con­fer­ence.

AGIPP’s pro­posed com­mit­tee would pro­vide an equal­ity-fo­cussed “gen­der au­dit” of fu­ture peace talks, the group said.

Last week eth­nic armed or­gan­i­sa­tions fared best on this front, with women com­pris­ing just over 20pc of their 175-mem­ber Pan­g­long del­e­ga­tion. A to­tal of 750 del­e­gates were recog­nised as full-fledged Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence par­tic­i­pants, but the ros­ter swelled to more than 1500 peo­ple when “ob­servers” were added.

Yawk Muang, a se­nior of­fi­cer with the Restora­tion Coun­cil of Shan State, said more fe­male voices at the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble would be wel­comed.

“Women’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the peace process is im­por­tant. Women are good at ne­go­ti­a­tion and their par­tic­i­pa­tion in peace talks would bring good things. Women have much more con­fi­dence and abil­ity in this cen­tury,” he said, adding, “Peo­ple need to give space and op­por­tu­ni­ties for women in the peace process.”

Nang Phyu Phyu Lin said to­ken in­clu­sion of more women would not be enough, stress­ing “the im­por­tance of recog­nis­ing the dif­fer­ence be­tween women’s in­clu­sion and mean­ing­ful par­tic­i­pa­tion”.

“They need to pro­vide space for women and also to agree on ded­i­cated in­clu­sion poli­cies within for­mal peace process en­ti­ties that en­able women to hold mean­ing­ful par­tic­i­pa­tory roles in the peace process,” she added.

Women’s ad­vo­cacy groups were in­vited to the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence hav­ing only been granted “ob­server” sta­tus.

Ma Khin Lay, chair of the Women’s Or­ga­ni­za­tion Net­work, said last week she hoped that would change in fu­ture.

AGIPP was not given a speak­ing slot at the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence, which saw dozens of speeches from rep­re­sen­ta­tives of gov­ern­ment, the Tat­madaw, po­lit­i­cal par­ties and eth­nic armed groups. The al­liance was in­stead al­lowed to sub­mit a pa­per on is­sues of gen­der equal­ity.

Ac­cord­ing to AGIPP, out of 72 pa­pers for­mally put for­ward at the con­fer­ence, 21 made ref­er­ence to gen­der equal­ity is­sues.

The Min­istry of So­cial Wel­fare, Re­lief and Re­set­tle­ment was cheered by women’s rights groups for high­light­ing vi­o­lence and other rights vi­o­la­tions per­pe­trated against women in con­flict zones. The min­istry also made a call for greater fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the peace process.

One rep­re­sen­ta­tive for eth­nic armed or­gan­i­sa­tions said gen­der equal­ity would un­der­pin the en­vi­sioned fed­eral Union that groups like his have long fought to es­tab­lish.

Photo: Aung Khant

Del­e­gates walk through the con­ven­tion cen­tre dur­ing the third day of the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence in Nay Pyi Taw on Septem­ber 2.

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