Female Community leaders meet Swedish Development Head

Participants pose for documentary photo.
Participants pose for documentary photo.

A LOCAL level female leader was very proud to share her experience of being a ward administrator with a visiting head of a foreign development agency.
Daw Thidar Win showed Ms Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, the Director General of the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), around her ward, Myoma 4 Quarter, Dala Township, located across the Yangon river, a few minutes from the city’s business district.
Village tract administrators, present in rural areas, or ward administrators, in urban areas have a direct line of communication with township administrators and form a bridge between township administration and the people living in the wards and village-tracts. Prior to 2012, local administrators were appointed by Government. Since the reforms in Myanmar initiated in 2012, local administrators have been elected from a group of nominated 10 household heads.
“I start every day by walking around my ward, meeting people, listening to their concerns at the same time noting the conditions of the roads, water reservoirs and other infrastructure. Based on my discussions with people and my observations, I make plans for what the community needs to develop further. For example, when I took up my role, I noted that there was a need for repairing a number of reservoirs which have been the main water sources of many people and roads. I raised this with the Township Administrator, concerned government departments and together secured funds for this work,”Daw Thidar Win told Ms Gornitzka on Sunday.
Little was known about Myanmar’s tiny fraction of female local administrators, until a nationwide local governance mapping exercise conducted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) together with the General Administration Department, under the Ministry of Home Affairs, revealed that during the first elections held over 2012-2013, only 42 women were elected, constituting 0.25 % of the total 16, 785 ward/village tract administrators (W/VTA).
One of the requirements for being elected as a ward or village tract administrator is to be a 10 household head. A number of representatives of Myanmar’s Rural Women’s Network, May Doe Kabar are already shouldering such responsibilities. They see ward and village-tract administrators as an aspiration to aim for greater leadership heights.
May Doe Kabar board member, Daw Nyo Nyo San, from Nawngkhio township in Shan State is very happy that she had a chance to interact with and learn from the female ward and village tract leaders first at a weeklong workshop organized last December, and now an opportunity to observe Daw Thidar Win work in her ward.
“I am now a 10 household head. I would like to become a VTA and help to address women’s needs better,” said Daw Nyo Nyo San.
Ms Gornitzka said she was impressed by the determination and dedication shown by Daw Thidar Win and Daw Nyo Nyo San, as well as the other Myanmar female local leaders she has heard about.
“I have had very inspring discussions with the local women leaders. It is great to see practical work that matters!,” said MsGornitzka.
Sweden provides funds to support UNDP’s work with a particular emphasis on improving local governance and strengthening women’s participation.
Developing women’s leadership in local governance is a priority for UNDP.

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