Jun 27, 2013
Can Democracy Work for Women in Burma?
Sponsored by the International Forum for Democratic Studies
at the National Endowment for Democracy
Nang Lao Liang Won (Tay Tay)
Reagan-Fascell Fellow, National Endowment for Democracy
with comments by
Senior Director for Asia and Global Programs, National Endowment for Democracy
Senior Director, Fellowship Programs, International Forum for Democratic Studies
Throughout Burma’s history, women have played a critical role in political and social movements, yet their stories are often overlooked or left out of official records. To this day, the decision-making bodies of all spheres of society, ranging from village to state levels, continue to be dominated by men, reflecting the country’s culturally conservative stance toward women.
In her presentation, Tay Tay discussed women’s unique contributions to political developments in Burma and used her experiences as an activist to highlight the indispensable role played by multi-ethnic women’s groups along Burma’s borders in the country’s struggle for democracy. She identified opportunities available to women in light of the current opening in Burma, as well as obstacles hindering the advancement of women, regardless of their ethnicity or social status. She concluded with recommendations on how stakeholders can foster an enabling environment that protects and promotes women in a democratic Burma.
Nang Lao Liang Won (Tay Tay) is a feminist, activist, and educator. She is a co-founder of the Shan Women's Action Network (SWAN) and Migrant Assistance Programme (MAP). She has also worked in various capacities with the Women’s League of Burma (WLB) from the time it was founded, and she served as a Board Member for WLB until February 2013. She has been an advocate for women's human rights in Burma at many international forums, including the United Nations. She has been a long-time member of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law & Development (APWLD), a regional feminist organization, for which she served as a Task force member of the Violence Against Women program from 2005 to 2009 and as a member of its Regional Council from 2006 to 2007. Currently, she is a member of the International Advisory Council of the Global Fund for Women and an advisory network member of the Urgent Action Fund for Women. She is the author of the handbook Guidelines on Strategies and Responses to the Needs of Burmese Migrant Women (1998) and is co-author of several reports, including Dignity Denied (2000) and In the Shadow of the Junta (2008).
Brian Joseph is senior director for Asia and global programs at the National Endowment for Democracy.