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Initiative nurtures new generation of actors for an inclusive Myanmar

Four years of online training, fellowships and support for research on digital rights gets underway as the second phase of the Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar initiative launches in Bangkok on November 25, 2022.
A photo taken from above of dozens of people standing in a large hall looking at information displays. 

Supported by Global Affairs Canada and IDRC, Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar nurtures a new generation of young actors to promote inclusion, gender equality, respect for diversity and prosperity for all in Myanmar. Its programming — based outside of Myanmar’s borders — aims to develop a strong and well-informed civil society in support of an inclusive vision for the country and democratic gains achieved prior to the 2021 military coup.

Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar supports a wide range of activities under the following projects:

These research fellowships at Chiang Mai University in Thailand will reinforce the capacity for public-policy research and advocacy among Myanmar nationals in the diaspora. The goal is to enable Myanmar change agents and policy-oriented scholars to further develop their knowledge and skills in fields such as leadership, federalism, applied social sciences, migration, agricultural trade and higher education.

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The University of British Colombia in Canada will provide online graduate training in public policy to Myanmar online educators by adapting key elements of its Masters in Public Policy and Global Affairs program. The university will also manage fellowships for Myanmar nationals to carry out masters and PhD studies at Canadian universities, host established scholars who have been forced to flee Myanmar and place emerging researchers in Southeast Asian universities and think tanks to obtain policy-relevant research experience.

The Asian University for Women in Bangladesh and India’s Institute for Chin Affairs at Mizoram University and the Highland Institute are creating fellowships to support approximately 20 displaced Myanmar scholars from three major ethnic communities: the Rohingya, Chin and Naga. Through academic training and support for applied research, the fellowships will improve the scholars’ understanding of governance issues and hone their research skills on social issues of importance to their communities of origin.

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The Asian Institute at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy will promote voices for Myanmar democracy online. This project supports the expansion of the Tea Circle’s activities, a bilingual blog about Myanmar based at the university. It also supports new curricular modules offered through the Virtual Federal University that are founded by students in the Myanmar democracy movement.

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More than 100 displaced Myanmar scholars, policymakers, think tank researchers, Rohingya leaders and civil society members will access in-depth training, internship programs and research support to share, learn and develop capacities for effective participation in future peace processes. Led by the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies at Mahidol University in Thailand and in Canada by the Ottawa Dialogue at the University of Ottawa and the Parliamentary Centre, the support will focus on track-two or backchannel diplomacy, human rights and parliamentary democracy.

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Fellowships, training and communications activities will combine to support a community of gender and democratic justice scholars, researchers and activists supported by Myanmar’s Gender Equality Network. The Gender and Development Studies program at the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand will offer graduate-level training to scholars and activists and strengthen communication on gender issues in Myanmar through events and a web portal. Based in the United Kingdom, Kivu International will provide online mentoring and training to strengthen the organizational capacity of Myanmar think tanks, including the Gender Equality Network.

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Two Canadian organizations will support emerging researchers from ethnic Myanmar communities to strengthen their capacity for research and advocacy using digital tools safely and focusing on issues such as misinformation, online gender-based violence and ethnicity and alliance-building initiatives. The SecDev Foundation will commission and call for small research projects and the Centre for Law and Democracy will offer expertise on issues such as freedom of expression and digital rights standards under international human rights law.

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As this initiative begins, the many actors it supports and stakeholders concerned about Myanmar’s democratic development will meet at the Knowledge Marketplace – Bangkok 2022, from November 25 to December 4.

Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar was launched in 2017 by Global Affairs Canada and IDRC. An initial investment over five years helped to strengthen local research and analytical capacity after decades of systematic underinvestment that had eroded Myanmar’s internal capacity to generate sound advice for public policy.

With renewed support from Global Affairs Canada and IDRC, the current four-year phase of programming builds on this initial work and aims to protect gains in Myanmar’s civil society, with a particular focus on gender equality. 

Learn more about Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar