Meet Village Tract Administrator: Daw Naw Ta Bi TharJun 9, 2017
Mother of four children, Karen ethnic, Daw Naw Ta Bi Thar has been participating in the peace process since 2012, and is the first female Ward Administrator of Myittar Ward, Kyauk Kyi Township in Bago Region. Kyauk Kyi township is located in the Bago Region and has 41 Wards and Village Tracts and all are under the control of the Karen National Union, an ethic armed organisation.
Daw Naw Ta Bi Thar was urged by the majority Christian community, including her husband, to run for the Ward Administrator position.
She is well recognized in Myittar Ward for her participation in a social network called “Sittaung Than Sin” which undertakes various social activities to help people. Myittar Ward has 376 households with a population of over 1,000.
VTAs are elected by the Heads of Ten Households. Daw Naw Ta Bi Thar won votes from 34 out of the 37 Heads of Ten Households.
Challenges and Solutions
Daw Naw Ta Bi Thar faced many challenges similar to other female VTAs. Some people did not want her run for the Ward Administrator position just because she was a woman.
After she got elected, she was warned in the market that she would be watched whether she could perform the tasks or not, but she was not discouraged by that.
Daw Naw Ta Bi Thar always tries to resolve whichever dispute is brought to her attention.
“Whenever I have a problem, I never decide by myself alone. I consult with village elders and Heads of Ten Households and Hundred Households.”
Once there was an argument regarding land ownership between businessmen and an individual. She called the witnesses and clarified the ownership issue.
Daw Naw Ta Bi Thar thinks that male administrators would have a tougher time solving such problems. “Women are very good negotiators.” she said.
Since the implementation of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement started in Kyauk Kyi, Daw Naw Ta Bi Thar has become a negotiator between the military and ethnic armed organisations, sometimes even amongst the ethnic armed organisations.
Daw Naw Ta Bi Thar recalls how once she had to negotiate with an ethnic armed organisation to plead the cause of farmers who had been arrested for farming on a prohibited piece of land.
The farmers had already broadcast the seeds on the land before it became off bounds. “I asked the ethnic armed organisation to let the farmers use the land that year because they had already spent money on that. I told them that the villagers would follow their decision next year. I successfully solved the issue in this way.”
Daw Naw Ta Bi Thar is also a role model in her community. Whenever villagers see her doing something such as road maintenance, they all came to help her.
Ward Administrator Daw Naw Ta Bi Thar also works in cooperation with the ethnic armed organisations for the development of their township.
“We always inform the ethnic armed organisations where and what we would like to do. Then they said, “Wow! This is a very great idea. Let’s do it together!” Sometimes we even ask them funding for these activities and they provide the funds.”
Daw Naw Ta Bi Thar’s Motivation
“I am serving this duty because I want a change for our country. I realized that the changes should start from Ward and Village Tract Administration. We can make a change only if the entire Heads of Ten Households, Heads of Hundred Households, Township Administrators and Ward Administrators are united.”
***Daw Naw Ta Bi Thar attended the National Training Workshop for Female Ward and Tract Administrators in Nay Pyi Taw held by UNDP. The workshop took place from May 15th to 21st.
****Village Tract/Ward Administration is the lowest tier of administration, as per the Myanmar Government administrative structure. There are approximately 17,000 village tracts and wards in the country as a whole, and the role of Ward and Village Tract Administrators (W/VTAs) is crucial in interfacing between the government and the Myanmar population, 70 % of which is made up of rural dwellers.
The Village Tract and Ward Administration Law (2012) mandates WVTA’s responsibilities. These include maintaining peace and security, performing as a birth and death registrar, coordinating local development and facilitating information exchange between the government and community members.
Village Tract/Ward Administrators are elected in a secret ballot by 10 household leaders, who themselves are elected by members of corresponding household groups. They serve for 5 years and their terms are in line with those of the Pyithu Huttlaw (Lower House). A VT/WA can serve for a maximum of 2 terms.
In the 2012 Ward and Village Tract administrator election, only 41 out of 16785 seats (0.24 percent of total seats) were won by women. In the 2016 Ward and Village Tract Administrator election, the number of female representation in ward and village tract administration doubled to 88 with women taking 0.5 % of the seats. About 31 % of female WVTAs were re-elected to their second term.