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NORGLOBAL-Norge - Global partner

Gender Equality, Peace and Security in Nepal and Myanmar (WOMENsPEACE)

Alternative title: Likestilling, Fred og Sikkerhet i Nepal og Myanmar (WOMENsPEACE)

Awarded: NOK 5.9 mill.

This project focuses on the gender dimension of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process in Nepal and on the gender dimension of the peace process in Myanmar. It investigates the consequences of peace and DDR processes for post-conflict gender equality, women and men's social inclusion and women's rights. A considerable amount of theoretical studies has been conducted on the gender dimension of peace and DDR processes, but so far, few case studies exist. The WOMENsPEACE project is important - not only for providing new case studies - but also for bringing in case studies from two different types of conflict: the primarily ideological conflict in Nepal and the ethnic conflicts in Myanmar. The WOMENsPEACE project is a collaborative effort between PRIO and the partner institutions Nepal Centre for Contemporary Research (NCCR) in Nepal and Ar Yone Oo (AYO) in Myanmar. On 26 November 2016 an international workshop focusing on women's experiences in conflict, peace processes and post-conflict contexts was organized in Kathmandu, Nepal by NCCR and on 9 October 2017 a similar international workshop was organized in Yangon, Myanmar by AYO. The workshops brought together women's organizations, female politicians, activists, ex-combatants (Nepal), members of armed groups (Myanmar) and civil society from the two countries. The events were well covered by media in Nepal and Myanmar. An international conference on Women Peace and Security in Myanmar was organized by PRIO in Bangkok on 5 March 2018 with active participation from NCCR and AYO. The conference brought together scholars from Myanmar, Nepal and several other countries, including Colombia and Korea. The WOMENsPEACE project has already produced several publications, among these the anthology, Women, Peace and Security in Nepal: From Civil War to Post-Conflict Reconstruction, and a monograph in Nepalese language, entitled Nepalko Rajnitima Mahila: Donda Bebashapandekhi Sambidhan Karyannonsamma (Women in Nepali Politics: From Conflict to Implementation of the Constitution). An anthology entitled Women, Peace and Security in Myanmar: Between Feminism and Ethno-politics is forthcoming with Routledge. The chapters of this volume have also been translated into Burmese. In addition, the project has resulted in several academic articles, policy briefs and reports, and two more articles are currently in the pipeline. The study of the gender dimensions of the DDR process in Nepal revealed some very clear tendencies. While the interviewed female ex-combatants all expressed that they were pleased with the gender equality situation in the Maoist Army during the war, most of the female ex-combatants - and particularly the youngest among them - were quite discontented with the DDR process. Many of them were left in poverty without employment and income, and in addition they had to struggle with cultural barriers to their new-won liberties and with stigmatization. It came out that group identity was important, and that those that had reintegrated into communities/areas where they stayed together with several other ex-combatants managed better than the female ex-combatants that went back to their home community and were staying far away from other ex-combatants. The youngest - that is, many of the former girl-soldiers - were worst off. In Myanmar, gender equality is prescribed in much of the legislation, but formal equality and narratives of women's equal status co-exist with women's everyday experiences of inequality. There is still conflict in several of the country's ethnic states, and no DDR process has been initiated. WOMENsPEACE has thus focused on the participation of women in the nation-wide peace negotiations between the government and the Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs). In June 2015, a woman, Naw Zipporah Sein, became the lead negotiator on behalf of the EAOs. Key mechanisms in the negotiations are the National Ceasefire Team and the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee. As of 2018, the National Ceasefire Team had 4 female members of in total 78 (5%), while the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee had 8 female members of in total 75 (11%). There are several explanations for the low female participation, but a prominent one is that armed organizations are the only actors at the negotiating table, and few women play leading roles in armed organizations. Another reason is that the committees of the peace dialogue are thematic, and there is gender bias in these committees, where male members have consistently been assigned to discuss political affairs whereas females have been assigned to social affairs.

Outcomes 1)The project has provided meeting places for different actors involved in the gender dimension of peace and security within Nepal and Myanmar, not least through workshops organized in Nepal and Myanmar, and through the international conference held in Bangkok in 2018. 2)The project has facilitated increased South-South cooperation between actors concerned with women, peace and security in Nepal and Myanmar, as the project leaders and assistants of NCCR and AYO and the PhD candidate of NCCR, have participated in the activities in the two countries and have established links. 3)Project activities in Nepal and Myanmar have been covered by the media in the respective countries and have contributed to increased focus on gender equality in the two countries. The workshop in Myanmar was for example referred to in the IRRAWADDY, Myanmar's largest independent English language newspaper, on 13 October 2017. Impact It is too early to assess any impact.

This project compares gendered experiences of war and post-conflict demobilization and reintegration in armed conflicts with different types of fault-lines; ideological in Nepal and ethnic in Myanmar, and with different political frameworks for addressing group and identity-based rights. The aim is to generate new knowledge and synthesize lessons learned about the effects of peace and security processes on post-war gender equality and the political participation of women. The research is designed to encourage cross-case learning and comparisons between the cases of Nepal and Myanmar. During the first phase of the project the method of structured, focused comparison will be applied focusing on how gender equality was/is handled by the respective armed groups in the two countries during the war. The second part of the project is adjusted to the specific conditions in each country, focusing on female participation in the peace processes in Myanmar and on the gendered experiences from the DDR process in Nepal. In Myanmar data will thus be collected on the participation of women and its implications for the peace process. In Nepal data will be collected on education provided in the transition camps, how well this was adapted to the particular needs of women and men and the needs of the community in which they were reintegrated, how and by whom reintegration was planned, what kind of support was provided for receiving communities, economic resources made available to ex-combatants, and how reintegration was conducted, whether individually or into a co-operative. Our research will further address the impact of reintegration on post-conflict political participation, especially how and for what purposes female ex-combatants are politically active, and the broader implications of this for post-conflict gender equality and women's rights in each country. Partners in this project are Nepal Centre for Contemporary Research (Nepal) and Ar Yone Oo (Ayo) (Myanmar).

Funding scheme:

NORGLOBAL-Norge - Global partner