The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) and UN Women, Myanmar organized a Workshop on UN Security Council Resolution, 1325 ( UNSCR 1325) on Women, Peace and Security, and related Resolutions in Nay Pyi Taw on 27-28 April 2015. The meeting brought together 41 participants – parliamentarians, senior government officials from ministries addressing women, peace and security issues, commissioners and staff of MNHRC and academics.
Keynoting at the meeting, Co-ordinating Minister for the Peace Process in Myanmar, and Union Minister for President’s office H.E. U Aung Min noted that the role of women is especially critical in a transitional country like Myanmar. The Minister referenced President U Thein Sein’s speech at the Global Women’s Forum 2014, on how Myanmar has empowered, enhanced and valued the role and participation of women in its reform process. He specifically informed the meeting that the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement that is hoped to be soon signed prohibits all forms of abuse against women and promotes the meaningful participation of women in the political dialogue.
In her opening address, H.E Dr. Daw Myat Myat Ohn Khin, Union Minister for Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement emphasized that promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in conflict prevention, peace-making and long term peace building and development were very much in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action.
The Chair of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission U Win Mra wholeheartedly welcomed the historic signing of the Draft Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement between the Union Peace-making Working Committee (UPWC) and the Nationwide Ceasefire Co-ordination Team (NCCT). U Win Mra also added that in the light of UNSCR 1325, the importance of mainstreaming gender perspectives in all our peace endeavors should be borne in mind.
Dr. Jean D’cunha, Senior Gender Advisor to the UN Resident Co-ordinator, and focal point for UN Women commended the government on the draft nationwide ceasefire agreement and for including gender issues in it. She said that including women and their priorities in Myanmar’s peace process is a woman’s right, leads to more inclusive and sustainable peace and development and optimizes investments in the same.
Participants noted that in Myanmar as elsewhere the vulnerabilities and capacities of women and girls at all stages of conflict and peace process differ from men and boys across conflict lines. Men are mostly armed combatants, strategists and public decision makers. While Myanmar has had female combatants, they tend to be much fewer in number than men. Women tend to play supportive roles in communities afflicted by conflict. Conflict affects entire communities adversely, but women and girls suffer disproportionate negative impacts economically and socially. This includes increases in women’s and girls’ work burdens with the loss or injury of male relatives; loss of productive assets (e.g. land), livelihoods and incomes and other basic needs such as housing, water and sanitation, access to health and education. Women live in constant fear and insecurity given the lack of physical safety, the perpetration of sexual and other forms of violence, and need improved access to effective legal, medical and psychosocial services, including better access to justice. Conditions in IDP camps need to be more women friendly and address privacy needs of women and girls, especially in the context of menstruation, breast feeding and pregnancy. Finally women’s formal participation in the peace process and in IDP camp management are limited.
The meeting also noted that women also bring their unique experience to bear on all aspects of peace process, such as providing early warning and intelligence about impending conflict; defusing and mediating disputes; building trust; taking on village headship roles and protecting their communities as men often have to flee to avoid arrest or death; addressing sexual and gender-based violence and women’s long term development.
The discussions recognized government’s efforts to address women’s priorities in long term peace building. A national watershed is the signing of the draft nation-wide ceasefire agreement between the Union Peace Making Working Committee (UPWC) and the Nationwide Ceasefire Co-ordination Team (NCCT) with the prospective signing of the Nation-wide Ceasefire Agreement in sight. Inclusion of women and their priorities in all aspects of the peace process will enhance the effectiveness of the peace process and ensure that women’s concerns are well addressed in long term development, ensuring sustainable peace.
Participants recommended that the Government together with and in consultation with local non governmental organizations and groups, community based women’s groups, international NGOs, UN agencies and development co-operation partners:
- Develops and implements a financially resourced National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security,
- Empowers women economically by creating decent employment, improving women’s job skills and increasing women’s access to basic needs and productive assets including secure land tenure, credit in rural and urban areas,
- Promotes women’s leadership in political processes and governance,
- Includes women and their priorities in the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, the framework for political dialogue, the political dialogue and long term development planning,
- Provides women with formal training on early warning, peace monitoring and early response.
- Undertakes de-mining operations and raises women’s awareness on landmines,
- Raises awareness and promotes education on zero tolerance for discrimination, sexual and gender-based violence against all women and girls in normal times and in conflict, so as to ensure attitudinal and behavioral changes,
- Raises awareness and builds capacity of women and girls to say no to violence,
- Fast tracks the adoption of the national law to prevent violence against women and girls, including provision of services for survivors of violence such as legal aid, psycho-social support, health care, secure shelters and employment, and ending impunity for sexual and gender based violence,
- Ensures women-friendly conditions in IDP camps with special attention to safety and security, enhancing privacy levels for women, and increasing women’s access to basic needs and camp leadership,
- Promotes gender sensitive reforms in the policy and practice of the security and justice sectors, including gender sensitive capacity building for security sector, justice sector and government personnel at all levels.