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Engendering women’s political recruitment and participation in Myanmar

In 2017, to sustain Myanmar’s democratic transition, IDRC and Global Affairs Canada launched an initiative entitled Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar (K4DM) to nurture dialogue about the transition process and promote economic growth that benefits women and men of all ethnicities.

The initiative aims to strengthen analytical thinking and research capacity on these issues through four modalities: capacity development for individuals, including emerging researchers, civil society, and policymakers; engagement and collaboration, through roundtables, conferences, workshops, and other forms of policy dialogue; capacity development for institutions, providing support for think tanks and government; and funding for research projects on the topics of inclusive democratic governance and economic development. This project addresses the fourth modality. It is one of the five selected entries under the call “Gender equality and decentralization”, launched in July 2017.

Women’s parliamentary representation in Myanmar remains low (10.5%) compared to the regional and global averages (19.4% and 23.3%, respectively). The aim of this project is to provide evidence on current recruitment and candidate selection practices within Burmese political parties to show how these factors impact women’s political representation at the national and local levels. The project will also investigate attitudes towards female political leaders at different levels of government and in communities. With this evidence, researchers seek to inform decision-makers about the pathways that promote women’s political participation in Myanmar. Lastly, a comparative analysis of women’s political representation in Malaysia and Indonesia will help identify regional lessons.

Project leaders and staff from the Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation in Yangon will collaborate with McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario on the research design and implementation. Among the outputs are reports synthesizing research findings, policy briefs and media articles, as well as policy workshops to promote research uptake.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
36 months
IDRC Officer
Gillian Dowie
Total Funding
CA$ 286,119.00
Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar 2017-2021
Institution Country
Project Leader
Daw Aye Lei Tun
Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation


Party building and candidate selection : intraparty politics and promoting gender equality in Myanmar

Party building and candidate selection : intraparty politics and promoting gender equality in Myanmar


This study examines why women remain underrepresented in Myanmar politics. It looks at structural and cultural aspects, revealing the dynamics of intraparty politics, especially the role and processes of candidate selection that affect both demand and supply of women candidates at local and national party levels. The findings are based on qualitative analysis of 72 in-depth interviews with members of nine political parties. Results suggest familial succession and family networks are common channels for recruitment. Additionally, those with backgrounds in social or religious groups, or as teachers are more likely to seek office.

Author(s): Tan, Netina, Minoletti, Paul, Bjarnegård, Elin, Lei Tun, Aye

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Language: English