Within the city of Myitkyina, approximately sixty young, motivated and eager women gathered to increase their knowledge of the peace process. They listened to trainers, exchanged stories and learned from one another over the course of three days. With the support of the Joint Peace Fund (JPF), Htoi Gender Development Foundation (HGDF) facilitated a three-day training seminar to raise awareness and unpack three primary themes: Women, Peace and Security (WPS).
Young women from various Kachin State townships: Waingmaw, Tanai, Hpakant, Chwihpwi, Namati, Shwegu, Mansi, Moemawk and Bhamo were invited to participate. Understanding that the intersection between gender inequality and political engagement is a long-standing Myanmar societal issue, therefore the training focused on the importance of women’s empowerment and participation.
Seng Nan represents the Kachin National Social Development Foundation. Her daily interaction with young women reveals the desire for their voices to be heard:
“Young women are gradually understanding their roles throughout our communities by participating in political affairs and understanding the peace process. But they have personal concerns, which include livelihoods, age discriminations by elders, and anxieties for looking after their family members, while they are away. Their participation must level-up by overcoming those issues in order to promote their involvement at the community-level.”
In describing young women participation Nan Bawk, Htoi’s Gender Project Officer states:
“women participation and decisions-making roles remain an arguable issue in our patriarchal society. Thus, we would like to empower young women stakeholders to speak out bravely and perform as key movers in the peace-making process; to support the peace talk effectively and help create a peaceful society.”
HGDF connected with young women stakeholders with a simple and understandable approach:
“We have to approach them in a way where we relate and understand their daily challenges, such as; minimum access to health care, unequal educational opportunities, regional insecurity and poor societal living standards, which all contribute to the cause of the conflicts. Therefore, women will have to understand and resolve the issues through a women rights and safety lens. With that style of learning approach, participants are starting to speak out and discuss their issues around peace.”
In the near future, HGDF will conduct WPS awareness-raising training for young women in Putao Township, Kachin State. As part of this training, HGDF will plan two 45-day Young Women Leadership programme for 42 participants. The programme will expose participants to a host of constructive frameworks: Myanmar’s peace process and advocacy strategies, gender roles, civic education, individual rights, natural and environmental conflict, public speaking, facilitation and negotiation skills.
Upon conclusion, 20 trainees will be selected to participate in a ‘Dialogue on WPS strategies’ focusing on Kachin State. Prominent gender organizations based in Mon State and Chiang Mai, Thailand will exchange experiences with the 20 trainees. The session will provide these young women with an opportunity to compare and contrast their own experiences with other organizations that have previous experience in navigating the women, peace and security space.
The JPF reinforces linkages between women, peace and security through various organizations that elevate their daily concerns up to the State/Region and Union level. The JPF has supported over 90 projects across Myanmar’s states and regions.
Source: Joint Peace Fund