Policy paper urges gender quotas for parliament, courts


YANGON — A new policy paper has urged the government to consider implementing mandatory gender quotas for parliamentary, executive and judicial roles, citing the lack of female representation in senior leadership positions.

The Policy Paper on the Strategies to Promote Gender Equality, published by the Salween Institute for Public Policy and the Women’s League of Burma on Monday, has also called for constitutional change to enshrine a minimum 30 percent threshold for women’s representation in government.

Myanmar’s most recent general election in 2015 nearly tripled the number of women lawmakers that served under the U Thein Sein administration, rising from 5.9 percent to 14.5 of all MPs in the Union Parliament, according to the Asia Foundation.

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of the civilian government, remains the only woman in the cabinet of President U Htin Kyaw. Daw Khin San Yi, the minister for education under the Thein Sein government, was the only female minister under the previous administration.

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Salween Institute deputy director Nang Lao Noan Vo said that numbers would need to increase further to ensure women’s interests were adequately represented in the country’s political institutions.

“The NLD has more women in its ranks than other political parties in the country, but what is more important is to measure their involvement in decision-making roles,” she said at the paper’s Monday launch.

Lao Noan Vo suggested that increasing to 30 percent the number of women delegates to the government’s 21st Century Panglong peace process would also increase the chances of a permanent resolution to Myanmar’s myriad civil conflicts.

Raising the number of female delegates to 30 percent has long been a plank of several civil society groups working with the peace process, who believe the government’s current forums are neglecting the voices of women displaced by conflict.

“There is no political will and real implementation for women’s involvement in the peace process,” Nang Phyu Phyu Lin, a member of the Alliance for Gender Inclusivity in the Peace Process, told Frontier. “Leaders should extend their hands to women to bring them to the table.

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