Capacity building in cross-border areas of India and Bangladesh: Canada-Myanmar IDRC fellowships for ethnic Myanmar groups
From 2010 to 2021, Myanmar, one of the poorest countries in Asia, made significant strides in openness compared to its early days of isolation. In 2015, a newly elected government came to office, pledging reforms intended to benefit the country’s 53 million people, representing more than 100 ethnic groups. In 2017, to sustain the emerging democratization, IDRC, together with Global Affairs Canada, launched the “Knowledge for Democracy – Myanmar” (K4DM) Initiative to nurture capacity for meaningful engagement and promote better governance, working with scholars, policy actors and activists.
The 2021 military coup brought this democratic episode to a sudden halt. Civilian protests have intensified against the coup, and the situation has continued to escalate into violent conflict. The second phase of the K4DM Initiative (K4DM2) aims to develop a strong and well-informed civil society — mostly outside Myanmar — to contribute to an inclusive, gender-sensitive vision that embodies democratic gains achieved prior to the military coup. K4DM2 will do this through online training, a wide range of fellowships and research focused on digital rights.
This project focuses on fellowships to support more than 20 young scholars and practitioners from three major ethnic communities — the Rohingya, the Chin and the Naga — over a three-year period. The fellows will undertake further academic training and hands-on research on social issues of importance to their communities of origin including education, public policy, conflict resolution, federalism, gender and human rights. The support is intended to engage them to become agents for positive change so that they can represent their communities more visibly as part of a future democratic opening in Myanmar. The fellowships will have a distinct focus on academic development and mentorship, hands-on learning about social research, and opportunities to engage with regional civil society and research communities in Asia and internationally. The fellowships will be channelled through three different local universities or research centres in northeastern India and southeastern Bangladesh, working through international partners.