Our Perspective

Myanmar’s State and Region MPs Learning on the Job, and Online

25 Jul 2017

image Six political parties are represented in the Kachin State Hluttaw - three of these parties had never been represented in the Kachin State Hluttaw previously, namely the National League for Democracy, Kachin State Democracy Party and Lisu National Development Party

When newly elected Members of Parliament took their seats in Myanmar’s State and Region Hluttaws (Parliaments) in April 2016, the majority of MPs were new to their role, with many having limited prior experience in politics and government. The high turnover of MPs also meant limited access to MPs with knowledge of the parliament’s customs and practices. The State and Region Hluttaws are also relatively new institutions (initially constituted in early 2011) and the legal framework in which they operate is still developing. For the new MPs building their understanding of their legislative, oversight and representation roles within the constitutional framework can also create challenges. An online course in parliamentary practices and procedures, available in Myanmar language and edited to reflect the Myanmar context, has provided Myanmar’s State and Region MPs with tools and guidance for their role as an MP, and for making their parliament more effective and open. A UNDP-supported professional development programme has been introducing the online course to Myanmar’s State and Region MPs since late 2016. The online learning environment, and the use of a laptop, are new experiences for many MPs, and the professional development programme has involved bringing all MPs from a particular State or  Read More

Everything we envisioned, nothing we could expect- Civil Service Reforms in Myanmar

18 Jul 2017

image Myanmar's new Civil Service Reform Strategic Action Plan was launched on July 10.

Myanmar's new Civil Service Reform Strategic Action Plan is at one and the same time everything that we might have envisioned, and nothing that we could have expected, when we first started working in Myanmar in 2013 and 2014. The Civil Service Reform Plan aims to make the civil service more ethical, more diverse, and better equipped to address the complex challenges confronting Myanmar. Its development was led by the Union Civil Service Board- in Myanmar, the body that performs many, but not all, civil service management functions at national level- with UNDP support. The ambitious content, the year-long nationwide consultations that preceded it, and the public support from the highest levels across state institutions that the Plan received are commendable for any government, not least one emerging from decades of authoritarian rule. Its timeliness and potential importance is evident in the continuing media coverage it is receiving. The Plan’s frankness about sensitive issues like corruption would have been difficult to contemplate just a few years ago. H.E. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, launched the Plan, saying “tackling corruption will contribute to a wider objective of the Strategic Action Plan: the  Read More

Why the launch of the Supreme Court Annual Report is More Than Just a Launch

28 Jun 2017

image The leader of a women’s journalist association shares inputs from her breakout group’s discussion around “Priority vs. Impact” of possible activities the Supreme Court can include in their new Strategic Plan to increase public awareness and access to court information

The Myanmar Chief Justice was smiling broadly this morning: after months of hard work by his reporting team, he officially launched the 2016 Annual Report of the Supreme Court to an audience of civil society representatives, private lawyers, journalists, police and prosecution officials, and the diplomatic community in Myanmar. This is a new way of doing business for the Court – inviting a wide range of organizations and stakeholders in a successful judiciary to hear directly from the Chief Justice about the internal deliberations of the court’s planning process is a significant stride towards transparency, public participation and collaboration. The 2016 Annual Report of the Supreme Court provides meaningful information about cases, disposition rates, human resources, budget allocations and even salaries of all employees of the court. This kind of information was simply not shared with the public in earlier years. But the collaboration and steps towards transparency did not stop there. The rest of the day was devoted to group presentations with lawyers and civil society, as well as heads of police units, Hluttaw committee members, law officers from the Attorney General’s office, and other justice sector officials to explain the Supreme Court’s Strategic Planning process for 2018-2022. The Supreme  Read More

So near the State Capital, yet so little exposure to development

02 Jun 2017

image Naryikan villagers learn about basic legal rights.

After a 30 minutes’ car drive from Sittwe town, the capital of Rakhine State, a UNFPA colleague and I arrived at 8.30 in the morning at Naryikan. We came to this village to observe a legal awareness training by Legal Clinic Myanmar,  a legal organization that promotes and strengthens rule of law, democracy and human rights. The training is part of the UNFPA/UNDP initiative to increase access to justice for women and girls in Rakhine State. We were welcomed by a woman leader of the village. Before the start of the training we had some time to learn about the background of the village. Naryikan has over 200 households, all belong to the Rakhine ethnic community. Every year during the dry season they face a water crisis, the village wells are drying out, so the families need to go to a nearby village to get their water. Only a few households in the village have regular employment. The income families get from cultivating their lands is too low, therefore most of the families depend on income earned as daily labor. The woman leader is appointed by the village administrator. The only government service in the village she is aware of is  Read More

The Enterprise Sector in Myanmar – Status and Potential

23 Feb 2017

Myanmar is at a crossroads. With a democratically elected government, growing levels of foreign direct investment, rich endowments of natural resources and one of the highest rates of economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region, the future looks bright. However, as experience around the world shows, FDI and natural resources alone do not guarantee equitable economic growth. To achieve this, growth needs to be more broad-based with strong linkages to the local economy. The business sector, in particular small and medium enterprises, or SMEs, can be critical in promoting more equitable growth. SMEs have great potential for creating employment, including for youth. In Vietnam and Thailand, for example, SMEs account for 77 and 78 percent of total employment, respectively. SMEs can also play an important role in alleviating poverty in rural areas and provide local opportunities through agro-processing and other agricultural-based businesses. The creation of more businesses also means increasing the potential for tax collection and thereby creating more fiscal space to support increased public spending. In order to learn more about businesses in Myanmar, the Central Statistical Organisation and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have conducted the Myanmar Business Survey, a comprehensive study of businesses in Myanmar with at least one  Read More

40 Young Volunteers Travel to Celebrate Twenty Two Thousand Rural Women

26 Oct 2016

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It is 9 o’ clock ona quiet Saturday morning in Yangon and 40 university students are gathered in the garden of the UNDP office, fervently waiting to know to which Myanmar state they are going to travel to the following week. The sun is shining and the UN blue umbrellas are not big enough to offer shade to such a cohort. It has already been one year! These fantastic students have been volunteering to teach rural women how to use mobile technology, to write theatre role plays that make it easier to understand the internet, and to record inspiring audio stories for rural women who cannot read.   One year ago on International Rural Women’s day, October 15th, 2015, the Myanmar first Rural Women’s National Network, May Doe Kabar, was officially launched. Few months later, May Doe Kabar’s very own iWomen - Inspiring Women App, an application co-designed by Myanmar rural women and young tech women, was released. The iWomenApp has now hit the 6,000 active rural women users mark.   One year on 22,000 rural women across eight states in Myanmar are getting ready to celebrate a triumphant first year packed with victories and achievements. 2016 saw May Doe Kabar  Read More

Learning Lessons, Finding Meaning

02 Oct 2016

My name is Lydia Mudryj,and I am privileged to be teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL), legal English and a range of law topics to various legal sector participants in Myanmar. I came to Myanmar in February 2015 through Australian Volunteers International, a not-for-profit organization which is committed to achieving positive economic and social development change around the world.I am seconded tothe UNDP Myanmar Rule of Law and Access to Justice Team,and my work is directly linked to UNDP’s objective of equipping justice sector actors with the knowledge and skills required to better perform their functions.   Upon my initial arrival in Myanmar, I was based in Taunggyi (Shan State) where I spent six months before moving on to Nay Pyi Taw (capital of Myanmar) for another sevenmonths. As of June 2016, I have been based in Mandalay (Mandalay Region).   In the year and a half that I have been here, I have had the opportunity to not only work in these cities, but also enjoy Myanmar’s diverse way of life and culture.   During my time here, I have had,and still have,the privilege of teaching a diverse range of students including:prosecutors from the Advocate General Offices (AGOs) in Shan  Read More

ျမန္မာ့ဒီမိုကေရစီအရွိန္အဟုန္

07 Aug 2016

၂၀၁၂ ခုႏွစ္တြင္ ကုလသမဂၢဖြံ႔ၿဖိဳးမႈ အစီအစဥ္၏ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ လုပ္ငန္း အစီအစဥ္ကို ျပင္ဆင္ခ်ဲ႕ထြင္ရာ၌ ပထမဆံုး ေဆာင္ရြက္ရသည္မွာ “ထိေတြ႔ဆက္ဆံေရး မဟာဗ်ဴဟာ” ကို ျပင္ဆင္ျခင္းပင္ ျဖစ္ပါသည္။ ထိုစဥ္က ကၽြႏ္ုပ္သည္ ကုလသမဂၢဖြံ႔ၿဖိဳးမႈ အစီအစဥ္ (ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ) ၏ ၫြန္ၾကားေရးမွဴး တာ၀န္ကို လတ္တေလာ ရယူထားသူ ျဖစ္ၿပီး၊ အစည္းအေ၀းမ်ားတြင္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ၏ အသြင္ကူးေျပာင္းေရး လုပ္ငန္းစဥ္ အေပၚ သံသယ ၀င္သူမ်ား၊ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ၏ အသြင္ကူးေျပာင္းေရးျဖစ္စဥ္သည္ “အႏွစ္” မပါ၊ “အကာ” မွ်သာ ျဖစ္ေၾကာင္း ေျပာဆိုသူမ်ားႏွင့္ ေတြ႔ၾကံဳခဲ့ရပါသည္။ အခ်ိဳ႕ကမူ အကယ္၍ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ၏ အသြင္ကူးေျပာင္းမႈသည္ စစ္မွန္ေသာ ေျပာင္းလဲမႈ ျဖစ္သည့္တိုင္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ အစိုးရသည္ ျပဳျပင္ ေျပာင္းလဲေရး လုပ္ငန္းမ်ားကို ေဆာင္ရြက္ႏိုင္မည့္ အရည္အခ်င္း ရွိပါမည္ေလာ ဟု ဆိုၾကသည္။ ထိုစဥ္က ေျပာင္းလဲမႈ၏ ရလဒ္ကို မသိႏိုင္ေသးေသာ္လည္း ကၽြႏ္ုပ္တို႔သည္ ေျပာင္းလဲမႈ၏ ဦးတည္ခ်က္ကို သတိႀကီးစြာ ေမွ်ာ္လင့္ခဲ့ၾကပါသည္။ ၾကံဳေတြ႔ရမည့္ စိန္ေခၚမႈမ်ားကို ေလွ်ာ့ မတြက္ဘဲ အျပဳသေဘာ ေဆာင္သည့္ ေမွ်ာ္လင့္ခ်က္ ထားရွိကာ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံတြင္ ဒီမိုကေရစီ ျမွင့္တင္ေရး၊ ဆင္းရဲႏြမ္းပါးမႈ ေလ်ာ့ပါးေရးႏွင့္ သဘာ၀ ပတ္၀န္းက်င္ ေရရွည္ တည္တံ့ေရး လုပ္ငန္းမ်ားကို ေဆာင္ရြက္ရန္ “ကုလသမဂၢဖြံ႔ၿဖိဳးမႈ အစီအစဥ္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ ဖြံ႔ၿဖိဳးေရး လုပ္ငန္း အစီအစဥ္သစ္” အား ပံုေဖာ္ ေရးဆြဲခဲ့ပါသည္။ ထိုစဥ္က ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ၏ အာဏာရ ေခါင္းေဆာင္မ်ား၊ အတိုက္အခံ ေခါင္းေဆာင္မ်ားသည္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ ျပဳျပင္ ေျပာင္းလဲေရးတြင္ အေရးပါေသာ ကိစၥရပ္မ်ားကို ကိုင္တြယ္၍ ေျပာင္းလဲမႈကို ဦးေဆာင္ရန္ လိုအပ္ေသာ စြမ္းရည္မ်ား ျဖည့္တင္းကာ ေဆာင္ရြက္လိမ့္မည္ ျဖစ္ေၾကာင္းကို ကၽြႏ္ုပ္တို႔ အနည္းငယ္မွ်သာ သိရွိခြင့္ ရခဲ့ပါသည္။ ၂၀၁၅ ခုႏွစ္ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲႏွင့္ ႏိုင္ငံေရး အသြင္ကူးေျပာင္းမႈ ျဖစ္ေပၚၿပီးေနာက္တြင္ ဦးတည္ခ်က္ ပိုမိို ျမင့္မားေသာ ျပဳျပင္ေျပာင္းလဲေရး လုပ္ငန္းစဥ္မ်ား ေဆာင္ရြက္ရန္ အေျခအေန ေပၚထြန္းဖြယ္ ရွိသည္ကို ေတြ႔ရပါသည္။ သို႔ေစမူ အစိုးရ အဖြဲ႔သစ္၏ စြမ္းရည္ကို သံသယ၀င္သူမ်ား ရွိလာဦးမည္ ျဖစ္သည္။ အတိုက္အခံ အျဖစ္ ကာလ ရွည္လ်ားစြာ ရပ္တည္ခဲ့ရာမွ အုပ္ခ်ဳပ္ေရး တာ၀န္ကို လႊဲေျပာင္း ရယူလိုက္ေသာ အစိုးရ အဖြဲ႔သစ္သည္ ႏိုင္ငံကို ေကာင္းမြန္စြာ  လည္ပတ္ႏိုင္ပါမည္ေလာ ဟု သံသယ ၀င္သူမ်ား၊ အစိုးရ အဖြဲ႔သစ္သည္ ျပည္တြင္းႏွင့္ ႏိုင္ငံတကာမွ ေမွ်ာ္လင့္ခ်က္ကို မည္သို႔ ျဖည့္ဆည္းမည္နည္း၊ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲ ေအာင္ျမင္မႈႏွင့္ အတူ ပူးတြဲေနေသာ တာ၀န္မ်ားကို မည္သို႔ ေဆာင္ရြက္မည္ ဟု ေမးခြန္း ထုတ္သူမ်ား၊ အစိုးရ အဖြဲ႔သစ္သည္ ႏိုင္ငံ အတြင္းရွိ လူမ်ိဳးစု အုပ္စုမ်ား၊ ဘာသာေရး အုပ္စုမ်ား အားလံုး အတြက္ အမ်ိဳးသား ၀ိေသသ လကၡဏာႏွငင့္ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရး ရရွိေရးကို ေဆာင္ရြက္ ႏိုင္ပါမည္ေလ ဟု ေမးခြန္းထုတ္သူမ်ား ရွိေနမည္ ျဖစ္သည္။ ထို ေမးခြန္းမ်ားသည္ ယုတၱိရွိေသာ ေမးခြန္းမ်ား  Read More

Myanmar’s democratic momentum

31 Jul 2016

When the United Nations Development Programme resolved to step up its work in Myanmar in 2012, the first task at hand was to design a new engagement strategy. As the recently arrived country director, I recall meeting many sceptics within and outside the country who were questioning whether Myanmar’s declared transition was genuine and if the reforms were going to be more than cosmetic. And even if they were real, would the government have capacity to implement the reforms? Back then we were cautiously optimistic about the direction of the change, if not yet of its impact. Although we did not underestimate the challenges ahead, we built this optimism into UNDP’s new country programme for Myanmar, aiming to promote democracy, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. Little did we know that in a few short years the leaders of this country – those in power and in opposition – would tackle real issues, going well beyond the cosmetics, and build the capacity to lead change. Even more ambitious reforms are possible following the landmark 2015 elections and the smooth political transition. But barely has the new government taken the reins and similar sceptical voices can be heard again. Will the new government  Read More

Building a community of practice for social cohesion

06 Jul 2016

image A new Community of Practice is born: the group at the conclusion of their final planning workshop in Mandalay

In January 2015, UNDP and Search for Common Ground (SFCG) launched an 18-month process to increase capacities for social cohesion among local-level actors in Myanmar. The six-day foundation course that came out of this has reached 1350 people from government, non-state actors, and civil society in six states. It has increased their abilities to bridge gaps and improved the way they themselves work together. At the heart of this process are 40 trainers and six Civil Society Organization (CSO) partners from Chin, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon and Shan States, that make up the project’s Community of Practice (CoP). In their day jobs they are diverse community members—CSO presidents, state Planning Directors, and Ethnic Liaison Officers, amongst others. This mixture itself makes them a unique group in Myanmar, where mistrust between government, ethnic organizations, and CSOs runs deep and there are few examples where these groups build peace together. What is a Community of Practice? The term is attributed to an informal group of people who come together around a shared craft, skill-set, or interest and continue learning through regular contact. CoPs usually serve as platforms for people to share knowledge in order to influence practice, with the act of learning itself  Read More