Out of a total of 55 women who ran for legislative positions in Burma’s general election in Kachin State, 10 won races to represent their constituencies in three parliaments.
In the next government, two women will serve in the Upper House: Dr. Khin Ma Gyi, of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Mogaung Township and Khin Hnin Htwe—also known as Soe Nge—for the NLD in Mohnyin Township. In the Lower House, Lashang Ban Htoi, from the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), will represent Sumprabum Township, and the NLD’s K. Roi Awng will represent Myitkyina.
The six women elected as parliamentarians for the Kachin State parliament include one independent candidate—Ja Seng Hkawn, of N’Jang Yang Township—and five NLD candidates: Thiri Thwin of Mogaung, That Htar Hnaung of Mohnyin, Dau Naw, of Chipwi, Hkaw Ma Wu, of Hsawlaw, and Zar Chi Myint of Bhamo.
In the November 8 election, candidates ran for the three parliaments in 66 constituencies, as well as for four ethnic affairs ministerial posts.
N’Bau Nang Pu, of the Htoi Gender Development organization, told KNG that she was concerned that these new legislators would be restricted by the policies of their political party.
“We welcome women candidates into the Parliament,” she said. “The NLD won the election. All NLD candidates have to follow the NLD’s policy, so these candidates cannot do anything that the NLD party doesn’t agree to. If they follow the party’s policy and they do not listen to the people’s voices, it is like a centralization of power.”
N’Bau Nang Pu added that it was important that the women elected to Parliament use their positions amplify the demands of other women.
“We want quality women candidates rather than a [large] quantity of women candidates. We want women candidates to listen to the voices of women and to promote women’s rights as well as eliminate of all forms of discrimination,” she explained.
Under the last NLD administration elected in 2015, N’Bau Nang Pu said that parliamentarians were not effective in promoting women’s rights, because issues brought up in the state parliament—like sexual violence in conflict—were not taken seriously at the national level.
“We realized that if the Union government doesn’t give the green light, nothing will change, even if [the parliamentarians] actively discuss women issues,” she told KNG, adding that to her knowledge, under the previous government, only one MP from an ethnic Kachin party brought up these issues in the state parliament.
In 2015, 72 women ran as candidates for Kachin State’s parliamentary seats; five were elected, two from the NLD, one from the Kachin State Development Party, one from the Lisu National Development Party, and one from the USDP.