Opening Remarks by U Min Shwe, Deputy Director General, General Administration Department at the VTA Capacity Development WorkshopDec 9, 2015
Firstly, I extend my warmest greeting to Country Director, UNDP Local Governance Team and Resource Persons, Development Partners, Representatives from GAD and Planning, Ward/Village Tract Women Administrators, Women Representatives from Rural Women Network, Ladies and Gentlemen. I wish you all mentally and physically good health and happiness, and being able to serve the better interests of the nation and the people.
As you know, in our country, over 16,000 W/VTs exist, and the administrators at the ward / village tract (W/VT) are an increasingly important actor, being the link between the people and the township administration.
Appropriate equal gender representing at this layer of administration is also important to ensure inclusive people-centered bottom-up planning and development. Currently, there are only 42 female W/VT Administrators out of over 16,000 across the country.
The highest concentrations of female administrators are found in Kayin State and Ayeyarwady Region. Although, women administrators represent below one percent across the country, the number of women administrators in rural areas has increased twice than those in urban.
The obvious different number between rural and urban is probably due to higher educational attainment of both women and men in urban areas, and household duties being less demanding compared to rural areas. This is one of the factors showing the different number.
The current government has been the exerted efforts to achieve its reform ambition of people-centred bottom-up development, and to do so, the most effective way to ensure is to have appropriate gender balanced administrators at the W/VT level.
The presence of women and men not only in local but also in union level governance structures is also the most effective way to ensure the voices and perspectives of women and men are incorporated.
Traditionally, women have few opportunities to build up administrative skills and experience, which is related to existing stereotypes where women are considered less capable and less relevant for administrative duties and functions, and moreover, due to lack of time as they are responsible for households affairs and child care.
Additionally, women are also not expected to travel outside of the village alone overnight. As consequences based on the traditions and restricts, discriminations against women have come into existence. Serious lack of confidence amongst women prevents them from taking up administrative role.
Advantages and disadvantages of women and men in Administrative Sector
Let me take this opportunity to inform you …..
The advantages of women administrators include being serious, precise, patient, hard-working, dutiful, good at planning, negotiation, focused on conflict resolution and long term resolutions to problems, cooperative, bringing people together, and not focused on power. The possible weaknesses are being soft, shy, afraid and slow.
But men are strong, powerful, strict, straight, fast and clear, proud, impatient, prone to alcohol abuse and gambling and tend to be less good at listening to others.
Moreover, being women administrators at W/VT administration in rural or urban areas, it is generally used to be shameful for men to be led by a woman to which men express by criticizing women administrators. Male W/VT administrators generally feel that women are not suitable for administrative job.
That’s why, certain situations are challenging for female administrators than male such as engaging in physically demanding activities, having to travel or go out at night, and dealing with violence.
It is important to expand the number of women in local administration and to build and develop capacity and knowledge for women administrators that are necessarily related to good local governance.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In the past, particularly, before 2012, we exercised the Towns Act and the Village Act, 1907. The W/VT administrators were appointed under the Act. During the 2nd wave- reform the four sectors reforms; political, social and economic, administrative and private sectors, being taken place. In 2102 during the 2nd wave-reform era, the W/VT Administration Law has come into effect and repealed the 1907 Act.
Women have run for the elections of W/VT administrators and women are really existed in administrative role, they are the good model for next coming women administrators. Promulgation of new Administration Law and the election of women administrators are unique milestones in the administrative sector and in the gender- equality sector as well.
So, it is really necessary to encourage all women more and more participate in the administrative role leading towards people-centred bottom-up planning and development, and towards good local governance. In doing so, I respectfully request all gentlemen to leave the old practices and the old opinions behind that deter women’s expectation.
And remove the view of awkward when a woman works with men, forget the saying that “A hen cannot crow like a cock in the morning” and please make sure to keep in mind that “The hands which swing the cradle, the children born by them will become leaders of the country”. So, the most responsible ones are the women.
May I respectfully and kindly request all ladies and gentlemen in this three-day workshop to openly and frankly exchange of views, ideas and experiences to effectively raise the gender equality in the administration reform process towards building a democratic nation.