Anniversary of UN resolution sparks women, peace talks
THE glaring gender imbalance in the nation’s peace process – and how to remedy the disparity – were the subject of a discussion at a panel held yesterday to coincide with the 16th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 1325. The resolution covers women, peace and security, reaffirming the important role female perspectives can play in conflict prevention and resolution.
The panel brought together representatives from government, civil society and international organisations at Inya Lake Hotel in Yangon.
Organisers of the 21st-century Panglong Conference, held earlier this year, fell far short of a goal to have women represent at least 30 percent of official participants. Women’s advocacy groups yesterday reaffirmed a commitment to meet that quota at future peace dialogues.
Daw May Sabe Phyu, director of the Gender Equality Network, said awareness of women’s role had improved, but some still questioned the core tenets of resolution 1325.
“Women are also affected by conflict and war, so we need to participate,” she said.
Naw Susanna Hla Hla Soe (NLD; Yangon 10), an upper house MP and member of the parliamentary Women’s and Child’s Rights Committee, pointed to the prevalence of women as heads of villages in Kayin State as proof that women are more than capable of negotiating politically.
“A peaceful outcome could be [more] sustainable by giving places to women in the peace process,” she said.
Women’s activists pointed to multiple academic studies which have found that women’s leadership and participation improves the likelihood of peace processes’ success globally.
Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) secretary Sai Kyaw Nyunt said the challenge to meeting the 30pc quota at the Panglong Conference was a lack of female leadership, particularly in ethnic armed organisations and political parties.
“The culture of our country – a lack of interest in politics and peace from women – should be enlightened and [changing this should be] advocated by women’s activists,” he said.
Daw San San Aye, deputy director general of the Department of Social Welfare, highlighted concrete efforts to improve women’s participation.
“For the protection and prevention of violence against women and girls, NSPAW [the National Strategic Plan for the Advancement of Women] implementation is weak. We are still trying to implement it fully through cooperation together. As a first step, we are working to enact the Law on Prevention and Protection of Violence against Women,” Daw San San Aye said.
Naw Susanna Hla Hla Soe committed to trying to secure a budget for the development of the NSPAW and to assist with drafting the Law on Prevention and Protection of Violence against Women as a Women’s and Child’s Rights Committee member.
Despite Sai Kyaw Nyunt’s assertion that ethnic armed groups were particularly unlikely to have women among their leaderships, these groups were the delegation that came closest to meeting the 30pc threshold. The 36 female representatives they sent to the Panglong Conference represented 20.6pc of its allotted 175-member delegation, according to the Alliance for Gender Inclusion in the Peace Process (AGIPP).
Overall, women represented 13pc of the Panglong Conference’s participants, AGIPP said in September.