October 2, 2023
As a commemoration of International Peace Day, which falls on September 21, 2023, the CEDAW Alliance held the “Women’s Forum for Peace” from September 19 to 20, 2023. The “Women’s Forum” was attended by 230 women from different regions and women from alliance member organisations. The “Women’s Forum for Peace” was held for the purpose of increasing women’s participation in all decision-making levels and improving justice, responsibility, and accountability for violence against women through domestic and international mechanisms.
Myanmar has been through 70 years-long civil war, and the military has violated human rights and women’s rights in different forms. The military has been extensively committing crimes, such as forced porter, murder, unlawful detentions and torture, and systematically using raping women, sexual violence, sexual exploitations, and conflict-related sexual violence as weapons in conflict-affected areas.
Although women and children have been continually suffering the brunt of the conflicts in successive eras, the meaningful participation of women in conflict resolution, political transitions, leadership, and decision-making has been relatively lower and remains a challenge.
In the Forum, we discussed peace and security-related challenges faced by women following the military takeover on February 1, 2021, the measures taken to respond to violence against women, efforts for justice issues, and actions and approaches taken for the responsibility and accountability of perpetrators.
Based on the discussions of women representatives from different regions involved in women and peace issues, we discovered that although, throughout the revolution movement, women have taken initiative and been participating in armed resistance, political resistance, diplomatic resistance, civic and other activities, fundraising, providing healthcare, ID related emergency response and humanitarian assistance, programmes supporting political prisoners and their family members, psychosocial support, and responding a dramatically increasing domestic violence and sexual violence, their voices are still excluded from decision-making mechanisms in the current situation.
They also presented that women and children are not only facing acts of violence committed by the terrorist military but also different forms of violence committed by resistance forces. Concrete evidence shows that revolution forces have neglected and remained mute about women’s issues, offering the pretext that raising such matters limits their capacity to manoeuvre resistance movements. Against the backdrop of the failure of existing judicial and justice mechanisms and the absence of functioning judicial systems initiated by resistance forces, it was discovered that different forms of sexual abuse and sexual violence against women have been increasing.