Leading  Lights  Myanmar
Photo: Demona /Gender and Development Initiative.

Leading Lights Myanmar


The new face of politics in Myanmar

Oxfam is helping women to change the face of politics in Myanmar, giving them the chance to play a leading role in shaping their country’s future.

In 2011, half a century of military rule came to a end in Myanmar, signalling hope for a democratic future, free from discrimination and inequality. Five years on, little has changed for women. Deep-rooted prejudices and attitudes continue to exclude women from the decision-making process – from the village council to the country’s parliament.

Despite the statistics, the women of Myanmar are slowly but surely turning up the volume to get their voices heard: on 8 November 2015 the country held its first open general election in 25 years and 800 out of the 6000 candidates were women – that is about eight times more than ran for the elections in 2010.

In the run-up to the elections, Oxfam worked with local partners in the regions of Yangon and Ayeyarwady to help strengthen women’s groups, giving women the skills and confidence to become local leaders and teaching them how to effectively build their debating and fundraising skills, to enable them to run effective election campaigns.

the project so far 

Last year, the activities of this project included:

• The creation of 25 women’s groups which informed their communities about their right to vote, about opportunities to hear local candidates talk and about the rights that women are entitled to under national and international laws, and supported candidates and campaign organisers to run successful campaigns. The groups were added to the Women’s Organisation Network and a workshop was held for the network, in order to encourage collaboration between the new and the existing groups.

• 149 mobilisers were trained to work with women’s groups and developed plans to support women’s political participation.

• 300 political activists, women candidates and campaign organisers took part in a workshop were various political topics were discussed, such as the structure of the parliament, Myanmar’s current political situation, ways to politically engage the people of their communities and laws which guarantee women’s rights.

• 60 local and national candidates were provided with materials aimed to develop their fundraising and debating skills.

The Music Circle is supporting Oxfam and this project.