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Women’s Political Participation and Empowerment in Post-Coup Myanmar

18 March 2024
16:45 - 18:00
UNHQ, New York
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Flyer of the event in the margins of the 68th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women

This side event will explore women’s political participation and empowerment in post-coup Myanmar. Building on the CSW68 priority theme of accelerating the achievement of gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment by strengthening institutions with a gender perspective, the event aims to explore challenges and opportunities for strengthening women’s representation, voice, and agency in Myanmar’s post-coup interim democratic institutions, both at union and state level. 

Women’s political participation and empowerment in post-coup Myanmar is growing. Women make up at least 60 percent of Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement, serving in combat roles and non-lethal resistance efforts, as fighters, politicians, fundraisers, and activists. While political life in Myanmar has traditionally been male-dominated and successive generations of men have stayed in positions of power, women have increasingly taken on roles and responsibilities in post-coup Myanmar. Women’s political representation increased from 13% women MPs elected in the 2015 general election to 16-18% women MPs in the 2020 elections, as per data of the Union Election Commission. Since the elections, women’s voice and agency in politics and governance has continued to grow, particularly on regional and state level, some regions being mostly run by women. A gender quota was introduced in Article 48 of the Federal Democracy Charter which was adopted in 2022, stipulating a quota of at least 30 percent of women at different levels of decision-making in future institutions of Myanmar’s Federal Democratic Union.

Gender equality and women’s political empowerment in Myanmar needs to be further supported by strengthening democratic and inclusive institutions, integrating gender perspectives in laws and policies, addressing all forms of violence against women and facilitating knowledge exchange and skill-building for women leaders in Myanmar and the region. While actively participating, women remain largely underrepresented in decision-making positions and are often assigned only supporting roles. Women are also affected by poverty and violence in post-coup Myanmar, sexual violence particularly impeding women’s rights, participation, and empowerment. In the war-prone areas of Myanmar, security of women, especially ethnic minority women, is at stake. The lack of physical security further hampers women’s agency.

Formally established in 2022, the Myanmar Women Parliamentarians Network (MWPN) is a cross-party women’s alliance, welcoming all elected women MPs of Myanmar’s 2020 general election who are not collaborating with the military. The MWPN boasts an impressive membership of over 100 women MPs of Union, State, and Regional Parliaments elected in the 2020 general election. 60% of these women MPs were re-elected and 40% were elected for the first time, together representing 13 ethnic groups. 

Similarly, women play an active role in the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) and the Joint Coordination Committee on Gender which brings together National Unity Government representatives and the NUCC. Civil society organisations within the NUCC have a strong advocacy role and voice to promote women’s political participation in Myanmar. 

Working towards the common goals of opposing the military dictatorship, establishing a democratic federal state, providing humanitarian aid and advocating for the rights of all Myanmar citizens, including ethnic minorities and women, this side event is organised to increase knowledge, strengthen partnerships and facilitate national, regional, and international support for women’s political participation and empowerment in Myanmar. 


Marcus Brand
Head of Programme, Myanmar
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H.E. Kyaw Moe Tun
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations
Ms. Anne Dostert
Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Luxembourg to the UN
Aye Mya Mya Myo
Member of Parliament and Founder of Myanmar Women Parliamentarians Network
Naw Hser Hser
Women’s rights activist and Member of the Advisory Board of the Women’s League of Burma
Evelyn Lyn
MP from Karenni State and member of the MWPN Coordination Committee
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