Myanmar’s Women Village Tract/Ward Administrators: Evidence that Barriers to Female Local Leadership can be Overcome

Dec 9, 2015

Women village tract administrators from Palaw and Launglone townships, Tanintharyi Division Photo: Shobhna Decloitre/UNDP Myanmar

Village Tract or Ward Administrators are the closest point of contact for communities with the official government administrative structure. A report released today by the United Nations Development Programme in Myanmar reveals that out of the 16,785 local level administrators, only 42, or 0.25% are female.

The report, “Women and Local Leadership:  Leadership Journeys of Myanmar’s Female Village Tract/Ward Administrators” takes an in-depth look at how these women have overcome barriers to become leaders in their communities, and offers recommendations on how to encourage other women to participate in local governance and take up leadership positions.

“The fact that there are only 42 female village tract/ward administrators in Myanmar confirms the challenges to women’s participation in local decision-making and leadership in Myanmar, but also shows that these challenges can be overcome,” said UNDP Country Director, Toily Kurbanov, speaking at the launch.

The report is accompanied by a documentary that traces the journeys of 6 village tract/ward administrators. They highlight the strong barriers to women’s participation in local governance, including socio-cultural and religious stereotypes and norms that discourage women to take up leadership positions as well as women’s traditional responsibilities in the house, time constraints, and limited opportunities to gather relevant experience and skills.

“The film and the report we are launching today tell the story of how women overcame barriers. How they demonstrate the importance of for example building up experience in social work, and having female role models.”

 “Stronger political accountability begins with increasing the number of women in decision-making positions, and UNDP will support the government and the Ministry of Home Affairs in encouraging more women to participate in local governance. But it cannot stop there. What is also required are gender-sensitive governance reforms that will make all elected officials and its administration more effective at promoting gender equality in public policy and ensuring its implementation,” said Mr. Kurbanov.

The report and documentary were launched at a workshop on Building Capacities for Local Administration, organised by UNDP together with the General Administration Department under the Ministry of Home Affairs.  The workshop is attended by all the 42 village tract/ward administrators together with the board of directors of the Rural Women’s Network, May Daw Kabar, launched in October. The workshop provides an opportunity for both groups of women leaders to share experiences and learn from each other. The workshop has been organised with funding support from Denmark and Sweden.


Contact information

Shobhna Decloitre
UNDP Communications Specialist

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