For the prosperous future, Vote Women!
In the upcoming Myanmar Election, a local group supported by NPA is running a campaign to inspire more voters to vote for female candidates.
In Myanmar, there has since 2011 been a very active “Women Can Do It” group, established following trainings done by NPA and women trainers from the Norwegian Labour Party. The WCDI-group is now fully independent, but still supported by NPA. The members of the group are working to promote women’s rights and the inclusion of women in society and politics, amongst other things.
Now, they are running a “Vote for Women Campaign” that is in its high intensity phase, one week before the general elections in Myanmar on 8 November. The campaign message is “For the prosperous future, Vote Women!” and the WCDI group hopes to inspire voters to vote for female candidates in the election. Out of a total of 6074 candidates, 800 are women.
One of the places where WCDI Myanmar recently conducted a Vote for Women Campaign was during the popular Market Days in the towns of Nyaung Shwe, Kawlaw, Hopone and Tunggyi Townships of Shan State in the north-east of Myanmar. During market days such as these, people from many neighbouring towns and villages come to buy and sell things. The campaigners, who were a mix of student volunteers from the local university, members of local youth organisations and campaigners from elsewhere in the country, therefore had a chance to meet with communities and key people from different sectors and different places.
“We found out that almost ninety percent of the people we met during our campaign activity did not have very basic knowledge about when the election day would be and how to vote”, says Htoi Raw, who is one of the campaign team members.
“We explained to people we met during the market days how they should give their vote for it to be deemed valid and that they can give their votes to women and why we think this is important”, Htoi Raw says.
She explains that for many people, the information about the upcoming elections was completely new.
“We did not get such information before, so thanks for coming to us here in the market and explaining in detail”, a seller from Inle told the WCDI-volunteers.
The campaign message and information was provided in local languages such as Pa’O, Shan and Danu, which is important for these areas where many people have a very poor knowledge of the Myanmar/Burmese language.
The number of female candidates in this election is an 8-fold increase from 2010, when the number was only around 100. However, the total number of candidates being 6074, there is a long way to go before there is gender equality in politics in Myanmar. Campaigns like the WCDI-led Vote for Women-campaign are leading the way and hopefully inspiring many voters to cast their ballot for a woman candidate on 8 November.