Burma’s Government to Appoint a Second Woman Minister

By Yen Saning 11 February 2014

RANGOON — Burma’s president is set to appoint Khin San Yi, formerly a deputy minister of planning and economic development, as the new education minister, bringing the number of woman ministers in the government to two.

Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Myat Myat Ohn Khin is currently the only woman holding one of the 36 union ministerial positions in the Burma government. There are just six female deputy ministers, and only 28 of the 664 lawmakers in both houses of Burma’s Parliament are women—one of the lowest levels of representation in the legislature in the world.

Khin San Yi’s nomination by President Thein Sein—which comes after the death of her predecessor Mya Aye in December—will go ahead as long as it is approved by Parliament during a meeting on Feb. 14.

The Union minister of National Planning and Economic Development, Kan Zaw recommended her for the position, according to the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development.

The appointment was welcomed both for increasing the number of women in higher government positions, and because of Khin San Yi’s academic expertise.

Khin San Yi was a tutor at a regional college from 1987 to 2012 and then a rector at Rangoon Economic University before in April 2012 being appointed as a deputy minister at the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce in Accounting and Auditing, a Master’s of Commerce in Trade and Marketing from Rangoon’s Economic University, and a Doctorate in Economics from University of Göttingen in Germany.

Mi Myint Than, a lawmaker for the All Mon Regions Democracy Party told The Irrawaddy that the appointment was welcome.

“We support her and will not object after reading her biography. Currently, the government is facing lack of academics to choose from,” she said.

However, Sandar Min, a member of Parliament with the National League for Democracy, said that while she would not vote to reject the appointment, Khin San Yi’s expertise on education were questionable.

“She is an expert in economics according to a brief biography I read on her, but she seems to be weak in the education field,” she said.

“She is more academic, but she used to teach at the Economic University. What we want is someone who is an expert in education, education policy and the state education system, and has good experience.”

Salai Issac Khen, executive director of the Gender and Development Initiative Myanmar, said the new minister was a welcome addition to a government in which the majority of posts are filled by former military officials.

“It’s fine as long as it’s not from the military,” he said.

“I am glad and welcomed that she is not only a woman but also an academic,” said Salai Issac Khen. “She is an academic so she will know how to play [in the field of education] well. How she will implement and play will be more important than her background.”