Creating women’s wings within political parties allows women greater influence over policymaking
Nang Tin Shwe Oo is a member of the Pa’O National Organization (PNO), an ethnic political party from the Pa’O region in Myanmar’s Shan State. The PNO is one of 41 political parties in the country that has created a women’s wing with support and training through the European Union-funded ‘Support to Electoral Processes and Democracy (STEP Democracy)’ programme in Myanmar.
The STEP Democracy programme is managed by International IDEA and currently implemented by five international organizations and three local organizations. The programme supports inclusive, peaceful and credible electoral processes, and enhances the capacity of stakeholders to strengthen the democratic transition in Myanmar. It is an integrated programme closely coordinated with national stakeholders—with the Union Election Commission, political parties, media organizations and civil society organizations involved in domestic election observation, voter and civic education, and advocacy for reform. The sup
port to women and youth wings within political parties is implemented by the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy and aims to strengthen the party system in Myanmar and make it more inclusive, responsive and accountable to all citizens. The establishment of women’s wings is an important first step to empower female party members, such as Nang Tin Shwe Oo, to make their voices heard and influence policymaking within their parties. STEP Democracy supports the women’s wings in this endeavour: women members of the PNO have received training in the technical skills needed to take a more active role in party activities, decision-making and internal electoral processes.
The programme has also provided trainings designed to develop women’s skills for campaigning, campaign management, communication, public speaking and advocacy. These trainings have been complemented by dialogue activities between women leaders and party leaders on practical ways to increase women’s political participation.
Moreover, the programme has produced two tools:
• Better in Politics: A Female Politician’s Guide towards Knowledge and Empowerment aims to help female politicians understand the important elements of politics and gain greater confidence in their work
• Guidelines for Political Parties in Myanmar Gender Equality: A Shortcut to Development and Prosperity, which contains practical steps for parties to enhance gender equality within their structures, policies and culture.
The programme is in its second year, and Nang Tin Shwe Oo says that its supportive activities have been vital in her work to empower women and raise gender awareness in Shan State.
The European Union-funded Support to Electoral Processes and Democracy (STEP Democracy) programme in Myanmar supports political parties to establish and maintain women and youth wings that strengthen the party system and make it more inclusive, responsive and accountable to all citizens.
Read more stories about International IDEA's results in our Annual Outcome Report 2019: Democracy In Action.