As Myanmar has moved to a civilian government following decades of military rule, new opportunities for women’s political participation have emerged. However, persistent social and institutional inequalities – including lack of high-quality formal education – have left many women ill-positioned to contribute to political debate. While recent reforms are indicating increased attention to supporting education systems in the country, the years of oppressive practices in the state sector have disadvantaged those women now in a position to contribute to the social changes accompanying the transitioning government. This article will explore some of the factors that have led to this disadvantage and examine the role of women’s leadership training in preparing women to overcome barriers to political participation, including lack of formal education, and gain access to positions of influence. The article concludes with recommendations for providing more comprehensive support. The observations here are based in large part on my work as a teacher and consultant in Myanmar over the last five years, and draw on recent work conducted by the Gender Equality Network (GEN).
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