NLD Struggles to Field Female Candidates for By-Election, Aims for 2020

By Nyein Nyein 27 June 2018

YANGON — The Central Women’s Affairs Committee of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) says it has little chance of fielding female candidates in November’s by-elections but would push to have them on the ballot in 2020.

“We have few women in the ethnic regions where the by-election will be held, and also our choice of candidates comes directly from the bottom up,” said Daw May Win Myint, who chairs the committee and represents Yangon’s Mayangone Township in the Lower House of the Union Parliament.

Thirteen vacant seats are to be filled in the by-election in Nov. 3 in Chin, Kachin, Shan and Rakhine states and in Mandalay, Yangon, Bago and Magwe regions. The NLD, the opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party and ethnic parties in Shan, Kachin and Rakhine states are making preparations for the contest.

“We take the stance that those contesting in the ethnic regions must be indigenous candidates residing in the region, so in Shan State the NLD candidate would be Shan and likewise in Chin State,” Daw May Win Myint told The Irrawaddy early this week.

“As for female participation, even though we don’t use the quota system, we have to push to have more candidates, especially for the general election in 2020.”

She said more than 30 percent of the NLD’s candidates were women in the 2012 by-elections but only about half as many were women in the general elections of 2015, when the party swept to national power. The proportion of female candidates the party fielded in last year’s by-elections was lower still.

Also, only three women currently serve on the party’s preeminent Central Executive Committee: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; Daw May Win Myint; and Karen State Chief Minister Nang Khin Htwe Myint.

The NLD has 27 women in leading roles on its 177-member Central Committee. And among the 44 people elected to the committee at a recent party congress, there were six women.

To boost those numbers and help empower the women it has, the NLD will hold a three-day meeting of its female members in Naypyitaw starting Saturday.

Daw May Win Myint said some 780 women from all levels of the party will join and receive training in leadership, management, peacebuilding and the law. She said the party would also invite women’s advocacy groups including the Women’s Organization Network, the Gender Equality Network and the Myanmar National Committee for Women’s Affairs to discuss their work and share information.