With UN Women’s help, Myanmar’s women activists learn new skills for advocacy

Date: Friday, May 3, 2019

Author: Sumiran Shrestha

Sittwe, Myanmar — Activists working in underdeveloped Rakhine State have learned in a training organized by UN Women how to more effectively campaign for the achievement of the gender equality and empowerment goals committed to by the Myanmar Government.

The training starts with discussion of key gender concepts and international commitments. Photo: UN Women/Sumiran Shrestha
The training starts with discussion of key gender concepts and international commitments. Photo: UN Women/Sumiran Shrestha

Twenty-five staff members of 10 civil society organizations and international non-governmental groups attended the training from 27 to 29 March in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State in western Myanmar. UN Women organized the training under its Inclusive Development and Empowerment of Women in Rakhine State programme to strengthen their ability to advocate for gender-responsive policies and programmes. The participants learned about key concepts on gender and Myanmar’s commitments under the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the National Strategic Plan for the Advancement of Women 2013-2022.

Saw Win Mar of Rakhaine Women’s Union presents her group’s work on gender concepts. Photo: UN Women/Salai Hsan Myat Htoo
Saw Win Mar of Rakhaine Women’s Union presents her group’s work on gender concepts. Photo: UN Women/Salai Hsan Myat Htoo

The participants shared their experiences in advocating for women’s rights, both the successes and the challenges. Divided into small groups, they created advocacy campaigns and through presentations shared them with the other trainees.

Training participants share experiences in carrying out advocacy campaigns. Photo: UN Women/Salai Hsan Myat Htoo
Training participants share experiences in carrying out advocacy campaigns. Photo: UN Women/Salai Hsan Myat Htoo

“I shall apply my new skills from this training not only here in Rakhine but across Myanmar,” said Saw Win Mar from the Rakhaing Women’s Union, which promotes women’s leadership and participation. Minshan Soe, Programme Officer from the Community Empowerment and Resilience Association, said the association so far has been focusing only on disaster risk reduction, but would now add activities on women’s economic empowerment.


“I shall apply my new skills from this training not only here in Rakhine but across Myanmar”


Su Sandy, Programme Officer for UN Women, agreed with Minshan Soe that further gender advocacy training was desirable. She said it is important to strengthen the abilities and technical knowledge of civil society activists so they can do work more effectively and efficiently.

“We need more participation of CSOs [civil society organizations] at the national, state and regional level, to know the voices from the ground,” she said. “CSOs not only come from the local community but engage at the grassroots level and also have trust of the community. We will continue our support in strengthening local CSOs, and to build better coordination mechanisms.”

Groups develop draft advocacy campaigns during the training. Photo: UN Women/Salai Hsan Myat Htoo
Groups develop draft advocacy campaigns during the training. Photo: UN Women/Salai Hsan Myat Htoo

Tun Yu, the training’s interpreter and also the National Programme Advisor for a government project, said people in the communities and the government agencies also need such knowledge.

Training participants are engrossed in group work. Photo: UN Women/Salai Hsan Myat Htoo
Training participants are engrossed in group work. Photo: UN Women/Salai Hsan Myat Htoo

The Inclusive Development and Empowerment of Women programme supports the central and Rakhine State Governments and people living in the state to address the main causes of underdevelopment and intercommunal tension and conflict.

The programme promotes opportunities for women and their participation and leadership in contributing to and benefiting from governance, poverty reduction and peacebuilding.

UN Women is jointly carrying out the programme with United Nations Development Programme. The programme began in 2018 and will last until 2021 and is being funded by the Government of Japan.