UN Women – Asia and the Pacific Regional Office

We broke the zero rule: trained 22 Kachin women peace makers

Date: 01 June 2013

Author(s): Montira Narkvichien of UN Women in Bangkok and Rachel Gasser of Swisspeace

Myiktyina, Kachin State – Women-led peace coalition is stronger in Myanmar as support of women’s participation in peace processes continues. 

Mr. Vijay Nambiar, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Myanmar (third from left, middle row) with twenty-two Myanmar women peace builders at the third consecutive peer-to-peer mentoring on Women, Peace and Security. Myiktyina, Kachin State. Photo credit: UN Women/Swisspeace

Noting the limited participation of women and attention to women in the formal peace negotiations, UN Women in partnership with the Shalom (Nyein) Foundation and Swisspeace, brought together 22 key women leaders from several areas of Kachin State to a new round of peer-to-peer mentoring. It was the third within six months of periodic exchange and trainings on women’s participation in the peace processes for Myanmar women from various ethnic groups to influence the on-going peace talks.

Kachin women peace advocates were mentored in various skills to prepare them to access the peace tables as part of delegates, observers or as third party participants. To dates, there are close to 80 women peace advocates who received similar trainings on Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and its sister resolutions, negotiation and communication skills; advocacy and coalition building and on current Myanmar peace processes.

“Building peace is like building a house, we need all kinds of expertise and women can bring unique set of skills. For instance, we have networks and connections to communities that most male colleagues do not have,” said a participant.

In his Opening Remarks at the Myiktyina session, Mr. Vijay Nambiar, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Myanmar, underlined the role of UN Women on issues of women, peace and security worldwide and extended his personal support to women in Myanmar.

“For the first time we broke the zero rule,” said Ja Seng Hkawn, Kachin Women Union, observer in the last round of negotiations between the Kachin Independence Organization and the Myanmar Government where there were for the first time women included.

Daw Doi Phu, Member of Parliament, part of U Aung Min’s delegation in the last round of talks: “We (women) need to sit at the peace table as we are discussing our future.”

UN Women’s Coaching Programme for Women from Myanmar Engaged in Peacemaking and Peacebuilding Processes in Myiktyina, Kachin State during 1-4 June was preceded by two previous sessions in February this year in Mon State and the first round conducted on the 12th anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in October in Yangon.  

The mentoring sessions coached Myanmar women peace builders on Women, Peace and Security international and national frameworks, current peace processes and in particular role of women.  Peacemakers from previous rounds of trainings join the new group to build wider network of local peacemakers and stronger coalitions nationwide.

UN Women’s 2012 paper, “Women’s Participation in Peace Negotiations: Connections between Presence and Influence,” indicates that the exclusion of women and of gender expertise can lead to irreversible losses for women’s rights. Crucial conflict-related issues of concern to women, such as violence against women, go unmentioned and therefore unaddressed in the arrangements for implementing peace accords.

Recent and ongoing intra-state conflicts include conflicts in several states of Myanmar, including secessionist fighting in Kachin and Shan States and communal violence in Rakhine state and beyond.

Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), its sister resolution 1889 (2009) and General Assembly resolution A/65/L/79 (2011) assert that women’s security, well-being, and public leadership are central to conflict prevention and resolution. However, a review of 31 peace talks since 1992 conducted by UN Women show that women make up only 9 per cent of the total number of negotiators that have been involved.

UN Women continues to work with other UN agencies in its efforts to place women’s rights and roles in peace and security issues. UN Women co-chairs the UN Regional Coordination Mechanism Thematic Working Group on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women which has a working group on Women, Peace and Security. The working group was initiated through joint efforts at the 10th anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 and UN Women has played a key role in the working group.

Peer-to-peer mentoring session, Myiktyina, Kachin State, a third session being conducted after two previous rounds with women from various ethnic groups. Photo credit: UN Women/Swisspeace

UN Women and Swisspeace’s Coaching Programme for Women from Myanmar Engaged in Peacemaking and Peacebuilding Processes in Myiktyina, Kachin State during 1-4 June, Myiktyina, Kachin State. Photo credit: UN Women/Swisspeace

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