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The Praxis of Access: Gender in Myanmar’s National Land Use Policy


Faxon, Hilary Oliva. 2015. “The Praxis of Access: Gender in Myanmar’s National Land Use Policy.” Paper presented at the Conference on Land Grabbing, Conflict and Agrarian‐Environmental Transformations: Perspectives from East and Southeast Asia, Chaing Mai University, June 5-6. 

Author: Hilary Olivia Faxon


In Myanmar, heated struggles around land grabs, acquisition, and formalization fail to acknowledge the complexity and heterogeneity of existing land relations. Gender dynamics are key to shaping these systems, and have been neglected in current research and policy. This paper examines women’s access to land and the emergence of gender discourse in land policy debates through a participant ethnography of the National Land Use Policy consultation process. I explore both ways in which land access is lived by rural women, and feminist contributions to land-based social movements. Attention to the differentiated yet interlinked spheres of the household, customary law, and land formalization enhances understanding of land politics, and women’s presence, gender concerns, and the nascent common identity of the pan-Myanmar women can catalyze effective advocacy for just land reform in Myanmar.

Topics: Development, Feminisms, Gender, Gendered Discourses, Households, Land grabbing, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Myanmar

Year: 2015

Gender and Resilience: From Theory to Practice


Le Masson, Virginie. 2016. “Gender and Resilience: From Theory to Practice.” Working Paper, BRACED Knowledge Manager, London.

Author: Virginie Le Masson


This paper presents a synthesis of four case studies documenting strategies towards building gender equality through resilience projects. It draws on the experience of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in the implementation of the Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) projects: Mercy Corps (Uganda), ActionAid (Myanmar), Concern (Sudan/Chad) and Christian Aid and King’s College London (Burkina Faso). The analysis also reflects on discussions held during a writeshop that brought together NGO practitioners, donor representatives and researchers, to examine different approaches to integrate gender and social equality as part of efforts to build communities’ resilience to climate change and disasters. 
The papers seeks to document how gender inequalities manifest themselves in all four contexts affected by climate change; how gender is conceptualised in project theories of change (ToCs); the operationalisation of objectives to tackle gender inequalities; internal and external obstacles to the implementation of gender-sensitive activities; and drivers that help NGOs transform gender relations and build resilience. 
The four case studies describe how disasters and climate change affect gender groups in different ways and also underscore the patriarchal social norms that disproportionately restrict women and girls’ equal access to rights and resources. The resulting inequalities are likely to undermine women and girls’ resilience, and ultimately that of their households and communities – an assumption that underpins projects’ ToCs. Hence, projects that aim to enhance people’s resilience capacities have to recognise social diversities, inequalities and their inter-sectionality. If they fail to do so, they risk further marginalising and undermining the capacities of those who lack access to decision-making or experience discrimination. 
Based on lessons from NGOs’ experience, and challenges they face in the particular contexts where they operate, this papers aims to inform practitioners on how to draw on promising practices to make resilience projects inclusive and equitable. It also provides a set of recommendations to point out areas where further research is required to increase understanding of resilience to climate extremes and longer-term changes, and to suggest how donors and funding can best support efforts to build communities’ resilience. 

Topics: Environment, Climate Change, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Equality/Inequality, Intersectionality, Households, NGOs Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, West Africa, Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Myanmar, Sudan, Uganda

Year: 2016

The Politics of Counting and Reporting Conflict-Related Sexual and Gender-Based Violence: the Case of Myanmar


Davies, Sara E., and Jacqui True. 2017. “The Politics of Counting and Reporting Conflict-Related Sexual and Gender-Based Violence: the Case of Myanmar.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 19 (1): 4-21.

Authors: Sara E. Davies, Jacqui True


Scholars, states and international organizations have begun to systematically count, document and compare sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in conflict-affected countries. Qualitative and quantitative studies point to a “tip of the iceberg” phenomenon, where there is a high prevalence but low level of actual reporting of SGBV. We investigate the conditions in which SGBV is reported or, more significantly, is not reported to discover the trends of reporting in politically oppressive environments where SGBV is thought to be occurring. We ask how the power to report in local conflict-affected areas is affected by national political tensions and pervasive gender discrimination. Reporting of SGBV in Myanmar, a country that has experienced multiple, protracted conflicts since independence, is examined. Analysis of open-access reports over a fifteen-year period reveals a pattern of silence that we argue is rooted in pervasive discriminatory civil and physical practices against women. Engaging with the deeply politicized and gender discriminatory context of conflict-affected societies enables us to see the anomalies of SGBV data and to highlight significant gaps in our knowledge about SGBV.

Keywords: ethnic conflict, human rights reporting, feminist methodology, Myanmar, Conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence

Topics: Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Conflict, Post-Conflict, Rights, Human Rights, Property Rights, Sexual Violence Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Myanmar

Year: 2017

Suicide Ideation and Victimization Among Refugee Women Along the Thai–Burma Borde


Falb, Kathryn L., Marie C. McCormick, David Hemenway, Katherine Anfinson, and Jay G. Silverman. 2013. “Suicide Ideation and Victimization Among Refugee Women Along the Thai–Burma Border.” Journal of Traumatic Stress 26 (5): 631–35. doi:10.1002/jts.21846.

Authors: Katherine Anfinson, Kathryn L. Falb, David Hemenway, Marie C. McCormick, Jay G. Silverman


Refugee women may experience multiple forms of victimization. The hypotheses underlying the present analyses were that experiences of victimization during conflict and intimate partner violence (IPV) would be associated with heightened odds of suicide ideation among refugee women living in 3 camps along the Thai–Burma border. Descriptive statistics were generated to describe the prevalence of conflict victimization, past-year IPV victimization, past-month suicide ideation, and covariates among partnered women with complete data (N = 848) from a cross-sectional survey conducted in early 2008. Logistic generalized estimating equations were used to assess the crude and adjusted relationships between variables. The mean age of women was 32.12 years, 91.0% were married, and 78.8% were of Karen ethnicity. Overall, 7.4% of women reported past-month suicide ideation. Of those women who did not experience any victimization or conflict victimization only, 5.1% and 5.2% reported suicide ideation, respectively. By contrast 26.7% of women who experienced only IPV victimization reported suicide ideation, and 50.0% of women who experienced both forms of victimization reported suicide ideation. Understanding each form of violence victimization and their relationships to suicide ideation may be important for targeting psychosocial services and violence prevention programs within protracted refugee settings.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Gender Analysis, Health, Mental Health, Trauma, Households Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Myanmar, Thailand

Year: 2013

(In)Equality and Action: The Role of Women’s Training Initiatives in Promoting Women’s Leadership Opportunities in Myanmar


Maber, Elizabeth. 2014. “(In)Equality and Action: The Role of Women’s Training Initiatives in Promoting Women’s Leadership Opportunities in Myanmar.” Gender & Development 22 (1): 141–56. doi:10.1080/13552074.2014.889340.

Author: Elizabeth Maber


As Myanmar has moved to a civilian government following decades of military rule, new opportunities for women's political participation have emerged. However, persistent social and institutional inequalities – including lack of high-quality formal education – have left many women ill-positioned to contribute to political debate. While recent reforms are indicating increased attention to supporting education systems in the country, the years of oppressive practices in the state sector have disadvantaged those women now in a position to contribute to the social changes accompanying the transitioning government. This article will explore some of the factors that have led to this disadvantage and examine the role of women's leadership training in preparing women to overcome barriers to political participation, including lack of formal education, and gain access to positions of influence. The article concludes with recommendations for providing more comprehensive support. The observations here are based in large part on my work as a teacher and consultant in Myanmar over the last five years, and draw on recent work conducted by the Gender Equality Network (GEN).

Keywords: women's leadership, Myanmar, leadership training, education, conflict

Topics: Education, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Myanmar

Year: 2014

Reinvigorating Resilience: Violence against Women, Land Rights, and the Women’s Peace Movement in Myanmar


Faxon, Hilary, Roisin Furlong, and May Sabe Phyu. 2015. “Reinvigorating Resilience: Violence against Women, Land Rights, and the Women’s Peace Movement in Myanmar.” Gender & Development 23 (3): 463–79.

Authors: Hilary Faxon, Roisin Furlong, May Sabe Phyu


In Myanmar, movements for gender justice strive to foster personal and collective security, vibrant livelihoods, and political engagement during a period of rapid and uncertain transition. This article draws from the experience of the Gender Equality Network (GEN), a coalition of over 100 organisations in Myanmar. It examines three cases in which GEN sought to document existing forms of resilience and expand these mechanisms through national-level advocacy. The first describes current attempts to publicise, and eventually eliminate, violence against women (VAW). VAW is a fundamental threat to personal safety, but also to the principle of societal accountability – that is, the extent to which society upholds the interests and rights of women and girls. The second focuses on women's (lack of) access to natural resources and economic decision-making, drawing on gender-focused input into the National Land Use Policy. Finally, we examine the impacts of conflict on women's resilience, and women's increasing participation in the peace process. In all three cases, effective mobilisation and networking not only increased female political voice, but also enabled creation of a more resilient democracy by modelling effective policy, research, advocacy, and communication strategies.

Keywords: gender, Violence against women, gender-based violence, land rights, peace, conflict, Myanmar, Burma, Resilience

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Land grabbing, Peace Processes, Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Myanmar

Year: 2015

We Did Not Realize about the Gender Issues. So, We Thought It Was a Good Idea: Gender Roles in Burmese Oppositional Struggles


Hedström, Jenny. 2016. “We Did Not Realize about the Gender Issues. So, We Thought It Was a Good Idea: Gender Roles in Burmese Oppositional Struggles.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 18 (1): 61–79. doi:10.1080/14616742.2015.1005516.

Author: Jenny Hedström


This article explores the link between nationalism, as expressed by the Burman state and ethnic and student opposition movements, and the emergence of a multiethnic women's movement engaged in resistance activities. In focusing on women's involvement in oppositional nation-making projects, this article aims to broaden our understanding of gender and conflict by highlighting women's agency in war. Drawing on interviews carried out with founding members of the women's movement, non-state armed groups and others active in civil society, the article investigates how a gendered political consciousness arose out of dissatisfaction with women's secondary position in armed opposition groups, leading to women forming a movement, not in opposition to conflict per se but in opposition to the rejection of their militarism, in the process redefining notions of political involvement and agency. By invoking solidarity based on a gendered positioning, rather than on an ethnic identity, the women's movement resisted the dominant nation-making projects, and created a nationalism inclusive of multiethnic differences. Burmese women's multiple wartime roles thus serve to upset supposed dichotomies between militancy and peace and victim and combatant, in the process redefining the relationship between gender, nationalism and militancy.

Keywords: nationalism, Myanmar, gender, ethnicity, conflict

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Civil Society, Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarism, Non-state Armed Groups, Nationalism, Political Participation Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Myanmar

Year: 2016

Narratives of Peace: Naga Women in the Self Determination Struggle


Vamuzo, Meneno. 2012. “Narratives of Peace: Naga Women in the Self Determination Struggle.” InTensions Journal, no. 6, 1–23.

Author: Meneno Vamuzo


Naga women live in a politically sensitive environment given their people’s prolonged struggle for self-determination. They also face the complexity of a society that is undergoing the binary of change and continuity, with the pull towards modernity, on the one hand, and strong undercurrents of traditional and customary practices on the other. The latter are often geared towards a strong patriarchal system that is often inclined to disfavouring women. Nevertheless, Naga women have managed to engage themselves effectively within their traditional space and have significantly impacted their society. Through a tactful and non-contentious stance, they have continued to influence the dynamics of peacemaking. This article looks at some narratives of contemporary Naga women who are active peacemakers in a geographically and politically divided Nagaland.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Peacebuilding, Peacekeeping, Peace Processes Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India, Myanmar

Year: 2012

Exploring Barriers to Higher Education in Protracted Refugee Situations: The Case of Burmese Refugees in Thailand


Zeus, Barbara. 2011. “Exploring Barriers to Higher Education in Protracted Refugee Situations: The Case of Burmese Refugees in Thailand.” Journal of Refugee Studies 24 (2): 256–76.

Author: Barbara Zeus


Millions of refugees today are trapped in protracted encampment where they are dependent on external support for basic necessities. Growing up in a refugee camp, many young people are eager to attain Higher Education but lack the opportunities and freedoms their non-refugee peers enjoy as they transition into adulthood and look for meaningful ways to support themselves. This article explores three main assumptions surrounding barriers to Higher Education in Protracted Refugee Situations both theoretically as well as in relation to the particular case of Burmese refugees in Thailand. Following a rights-based approach and adopting post-structural theories, this literature-based article demonstrates how dominant educational discourse emphasizes externalities and thereby neglects the practical realization of the individual's right to Higher Education, while powerful narratives of refugees as dependent victims have shaped reality in justifying mechanisms for international protection and incapacitating refugees. The article concludes that Higher Education could be both a means to refugee empowerment and a form of empowerment. We must not believe the many, who say that free persons only ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers, who say that the educated only are free (Epictetus, 55-135 AD).

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Education, Rights Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Myanmar, Thailand

Year: 2011

The MOM Project: Delivering Maternal Health Services among Internally Displaced Populations in Eastern Burma


Mullany, Luke C., Catherine I. Lee, Palae Paw, Eh Kalu Shwe Oo, Cynthia Maung, Heather Kuiper, Nicole Mansenior, Chris Beyrer, and Thomas J. Lee. 2008. “The MOM Project: Delivering Maternal Health Services among Internally Displaced Populations in Eastern Burma.” Reproductive Health Matters 16 (31): 44–56.

Authors: Luke C. Mullany, Catherine I. Lee, Palae Paw, Eh Kalu Shwe Oo, Cynthia Maung, Heather Kuiper, Nicole Mansenior, Chris Beyrer, Thomas J. Lee


Alternative strategies to increase access to reproductive health services among internally displaced populations are urgently needed. In eastern Burma, continuing conflict and lack of functioning health systems render the emphasis on facility-based delivery with skilled attendants unfeasible. Along the Thailand-Burma border, local organisations have implemented an innovative pilot, the Mobile Obstetric Maternal Health Workers (MOM) Project, establishing a three-tiered collaborative network of community-based reproductive health workers. Health workers from local organisations received practical training in basic emergency obstetric care plus blood transfusion, antenatal care and family planning at a central facility. After returning to their target communities inside Burma, these first-tier maternal health workers trained a second tier of local health workers and a third tier of traditional birth attendants (TBAs) to provide a limited subset of these interventions, depending on their level of training. In this ongoing project, close communication between health workers and TBAs promotes acceptance and coverage of maternity services throughout the community. We describe the rationale, design and implementation of the project and a parallel monitoring plan for evaluation of the project. This innovative obstetric health care delivery strategy may serve as a model for the delivery of other essential health services in this population and for increasing access to care in other conflict settings.

Keywords: antenatal care, childbirth, emergency obstetric care, misoprostol, internal displacement, Burma

Topics: Displacement & Migration, IDPs, Gender, Women, Health, Reproductive Health Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Myanmar

Year: 2008


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