Collaborative Efforts of University of Yangon in the Asian Universities Forum (2019)

“ Building of Capacities for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth in Asia”

  • By Professor Chaw Chaw Sein
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Convocation Hall of University of Yangon. Photo: Phoe Khwar

University of Yangon is a leading academic institution in Myanmar and its leading role is keen to bolster capacity in all areas including regional and international collaboration. In order to extend its collaborative efforts, it is actively taking part in some regional universities networks such as ASEAN University Network, Asian Universities Alliance, Asian Universities Forum, Silk Road Universities Forum and etc. The aims of being a member of these networks are to strengthen collaboration among universities by exchanging faculties and students, to cooperate for joint degree programme, to conduct joint research programme and to exchange view on higher education system. This article would like to highlight how University of Yangon has participated in the 8th Asian Universities Forum (2019) that was held in Manila, the Philippines.
The Asian Universities Forum (AUF) was an initiative of the Seoul National University (SNU) in 2011. With the initiative of SNU, the AUF was first convened in 2011. It is an annual forum that is held rotationally by member universities for extending network. Under this network, there are twenty-two universities representing twelve countries including Myanmar. The University of Yangon and the Monywa University represent Myanmar as members of AUF. From 2011 to 2018, the forum has been held for seven times. In this year 2019, Ateneo de Manila University and Seoul National University jointly organized the AUF. It was a two-day forum held from 9th to 10th February 2019. The aim of AUF (2019) is to render a setting for exchange of views on sustainable development in the global educational arena. The Forum was held with two sessions under the theme “ The Building of Capacities for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth in Asia”. The first session focused on “Sustainable growth in Asia” and second session dealt with “Gender equality.” The participants of the AUF (2019) are chancellors, rectors, presidents, professors and scholars of the member universities. It is an opportunity for University of Yangon to participate in this forum by sharing how Myanmar is implementing in the area of sustainable development and gender equality.
Both sessions were very interesting as they shared their country’s policy and implementation in sustainable development and gender equality. There were four speakers and four discussants in the second session. A professor from National University of Malaysia (UKM) discussed “Empowering Women for 4th Industrial Revolution” and discussed the nature and situation of Malaysian women in decision-making. She highlighted the limited role of women in taking the position of Director General level and Rector level in their universities. This is quite different from the situation of Myanmar women position in administration and universities because women occupied nearly eighty percent in the teaching profession and also taking key positions as Professors, Heads, Pro Rectors, Rectors and Deputy Director Generals. The topic I shared in this forum was “ Gender Equality: Empowering Myanmar Women in Peace Process”. I discussed this topic by comparing the role of Myanmar women in peace process under two administrations (2011-2016) and (2016-present).
The political transition that began in 2011 open space for women and women groups to become more active in taking part of politics such as forming political parties, participating in election and peace process. These groups play important role in democratic transition and peace building. Women make up more than half of Myanmar’s population of 51.4 million, and they can be the nation’s strength, if they actively participate in the peace process. Myanmar Hluttaw, which came into force in 2011, plays important role for making peace process and composed of several committees including Peace Process Committees. Only two women representatives from ethnic political parties: Kachin and Mon are included in the Peace Process Committee. Although women’s role in peace building, initiated by the government and Hluttaw is limited in scope, the role of women in taking part of peace process can be observed in women networks and women NGOs. There are more than ninety Civil Society Organizations including women’s oriented organizations such as Gender Equality Network, Synergy Group of Company, Triangle Group, Metta Foundation, Rainfall Gender Study Group and Civil Society Forum for Peace and they have come to the forefront of national reconciliation. When the Union Peace Conference (UPC) was convened in January 2016, women represented only seven percent. However, at the conclusion of the first meeting of the UPC it approved a proposal to require at least thirty percent participation by women at different levels of political dialogues. It was also in line with former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s emphasis on the importance of increasing women participation in peace process.
With the landslide winning in general election in 2015, the National League for Democracy occupied most seats and women representation has increased from 5.9% (2010-2015) to 14.5% (2016-present) at Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (Union Parliament) while at the State/Region Hluttaws, it has increased from 3.9% to 12.5%. Many committees are formed in both Pyuthu Hluttaw and Amyothar Hluttaw but women inclusion can be found with only few numbers. As peace is given as high priority, three rounds of peace conference were held in the name of 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference. The participation of women in the conference has increased from eight percent to twenty percent. But women participation is still under limitation in order to run important mechanism such as in the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee, women making only eight out of 75 members. Therefore, it is necessary to consider meaningful participation of women in the peace process and to draw attention for the women leadership and decision-making, their negotiation skill and their capacity at the table.
As Myanmar as a peace-loving member of the United Nations, it is recommended that Myanmar government needs to enhance the capacity and expand the space for women in participating the peace process. “Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (2018-2030)” which is the strategy for sustainable development was issued in August 2018. Peace and stability is listed as pillar one and inclusion of women for thirty percent has been identified. With these commitments, it is hope that Myanmar women representing more than half of the total population will be a promising force in the state building, nation building and peace building for the transitional country Myanmar. These are the salient points that I shared my view and presented at the 8th AUF (2019). I would like to encourage Myanmar women to take part in politics and peace building efforts by highlighting this article.

– Chaw Chaw Sein and Yin Myo Thu, “Women’s Role in the Politics of Myanmar” paper presented at the Consortium for South East Asian Studies in Asia Conference 2017, Chulalongkorn University

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