The Women's Initiative Network for Peace has urged President U Thein Sein and the Deputy Commander in Chief of the Kachin Independence Organization to include representatives of ethnic women's civil society groups in all aspects of peace processes.
WIN-Peace, organised by 46 women representative from 30 ethnic women's organisations nationwide, sent the request via letter to the president and General Gon Maw on February 19.
“We received a reply from the KIO two day ago (February 26) stating that we would be invited to future peace discussion with the government again,” said Naw Susanna Hla Hla Soe, director of the Karen Women Empowerment Group (KWEG).
“But it would be impossible to invite us to visit their camps because of unstable conditions there,” she said.
“The government has not replied yet.”
WIN-Peace said more than five decades of ethnic conflict had hurt women and children the most, and called for special care and priority to be given to protecting the lives of civilians, especially women and children.
The statement is in compliance with the spirit and content of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, 1674, the Geneva Convention and the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), to which Myanmar is a party, she said.
The letter also calls on the government and KIO to hold peace talks in April, and include civil society and monitoring groups in the discussions.
“We are ready to participate in all stages of the peace process. We want to go to camps in the conflicts areas and give assistance to women and children. And afterward we wish to stay on as monitors,” said Ma Nilar Thein, a member of 88 Generation Students Group.
“We urge both sides of the peace process to be transparent, inclusive and to ensure gender equality in all aspects of their work. We believe that peace process might be more effective if we are given the chance to participate in the peace process.”