Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation (EMReF), October 2020

Full report below


This synthesis report presents key findings from a three-year research project conducted by Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation (EMReF), examining gender and political participation in Myanmar.a Specifically, this synthesis report covers:

  • Why gender equality in political participation matters (Section 2)
  • Women’s and men’s level of participation in politics (Section 3)
  • Factors that shape women’s and men’s opportunities to participate in politics (Section 4)
  • The role of political parties and other governance institutions in promoting or limiting gender equality in political participation (Section 5)
  • The costs and benefits of running for election and being a leader. (Section 6)
  • Conclusions (Section 7)
  • Key recommendations for: Myanmar political parties; the Government of Myanmar; international donors, Myanmar civil society organisations, and international development organisations (Section 8)

The information in this report is primarily taken from three EMReF working papers. Working Paper 1 is an in-depth study of how nine major political parties in Myanmar are structured, how they recruit parliamentary candidates, and the consequences this has for the gender equality of political participation in Myanmar. Working Paper 1 also looked at the experiences of women and men as candidates and as MPs. Working Paper 2 examines the gender equality of participation in politics at village tract, ward, and village levels. Working Paper 3 will be published in December 2020, and will present evidence from a large-scale survey on gender differences in political attitudes and behaviour. These working papers are available to download from the EMReF website: https://www.emref.org/en/publications-reports

Working Paper 1 is based on a total of 72 interviews conducted in late 2018-early 2019 with i) candidates in Myanmar’s 2015 parliamentary elections; and ii) party officials in key decision making positions – such as Central Executive Committee members or Township Chairpersons. The nine parties included in this study include the six parties that won the most in parliamentary
seats in the 2015 election,b and the most electorally successful parties representing the Kachin, Lisu and Mon ethnic groups.c Working Paper 2 is based on a total of 98 interviews conducted in late 2019 in Ayeyarwady Region, Mandalay Region, Mon State and southern Shan State, with ward/village tract administrators (W/VTAs), village leaders, 100 household heads (100 HHs), 10 household heads (10 HHs), ward/village elders, and other community leaders; and 99 focus group discussions (FGDs) with local residents. Working Paper 3 will present evidence from a survey of over 2800 people, also conducted in late 2019 in Ayeyarwady
Region, Mandalay Region, Mon State and southern Shan State.

a This report was compiled by Paul Minoletti, with contributions from Aye Lei Tun, Elin Bjarnegård, Michelle Dion, Pausa La Ring, Netina Tan, and Meredith Weiss. The information in this report is primarily drawn from a series of working papers published by EMReF and authored by: Aye Lei Tun, Elin Bjarnegård, Khin Myo Wai, Paul Minoletti, Pausa La Ring, Guillem Riambau and Netina Tan. EMReF and the authors would like to give our thanks to International Development Research Centre for funding all of these papers, and the research project that they came from.
b I.e. the National League for Democracy (NLD), Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), Arakan National Party (ANP), Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), Ta’Ang National Party (TNP), and Pa-O National Organisation (PNO).
c I.e. the Kachin State Democracy Party (KSDP), Lisu National Development Party (LNDP), and Mon National Party (MNP).