Women Discuss Peace Process Priorities

By Nyein Nyein 30 June 2016

A conference on women’s peace process priorities was held in Naypyidaw this week to generate recommendations for a civil society forum to be held in tandem with Burma’s upcoming Union Peace Conference.

The two-day Myanmar Women’s Peace Conference—titled “From the Margins to the Centre: Including Women and their Priorities in Myanmar’s Peace Process”—was co-organized by the Alliance for Gender Inclusion in the Peace Process (AGIPP) and UN Women.

Nearly 90 participants discussed women, peace and security, highlighting strategies for women’s meaningful participation in the peace process.

Mi Kun Chan Non, co-founder of the Mon Women’s Organization and a steering committee member at the AGIPP, told The Irrawaddy that the groups gathered common recommendations based on the five main topics discussed during the Union Peace Conference in January.

Under the new peace conference model initiated by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, politics and security affairs will be prioritized on the peace conference agenda, while social, economic, environmental, education and refugee repatriation issues will be highlighted at a parallel civil society organization (CSO) forum.

“Of course, our collective views will be shared with the civil society forum,” added Nang Phyu Phyu Lin, chair of the AGIPP.

The Union Peace Conference under the new National League for Democracy (NLD) government will convene in late August, and Suu Kyi encouraged the CSO forum to run concurrently with and provide input to the peace conference.

The women’s groups have been advocating to set a minimum 30 percent gender quota system to increase women’s representation in political leadership. Female parliamentarians and policymakers participated in the talks as well.

Meanwhile, some 50-60 CSOs in Burma began organizing the national forum earlier this month.

Nang Raw Zahkung, deputy director of the Nyein (Shalom) Foundation told The Irrawaddy that the CSO forum would reflect the voices of civil society groups working in different sectors.

So far, CSOs are drafting the term of references, in which they design the aims, process and number of participants.

The forum organizers are attempting to consult with local groups in all of Burma’s states and regions. They plan to share the draft TOR with all of the groups in an upcoming meeting in July.

Given that the Union Peace Conference will begin no later than the last week of August, it might not be possible to cover all of the issues when the conference opens, but CSOs will be able to provide input throughout the conference, explained Nang Raw Zahkung.