Myanmar, previously known as Burma, is a country in transition. Located in Southeast Asia, it ranks as one of the lowest countries in the world in terms of development, with a large income gap between the rich and poor.

2015 marked a turning point for Myanmar.  Following nearly 50 years of military rule, the National League for Democracy won a landslide victory in the 2015 general election. This represented a crucial move towards democracy. But much work needs to be done.

Myanmar’s 135 ethnic minority groups continue to be marginalised and armed conflict persists. In this context, the military uses sexual violence against women and girls as a purposeful tactic of oppression. Our partner The Women’s League of Burma documented these systematic abuses as recently as 2014.

A very significant number of refugees remain displaced due to ongoing conflict, with women at an even greater risk of violence and trafficking. The courts still do not function independently of the military and offer little protection for these women.

Women’s movements have become increasingly visible inside Myanmar in recent years as space opens up for civil society organisations to re-emerge.

Having said that, the vast majority of decision-making positions are held by men and women continue to be largely excluded from peace negotiations. The 2015 election result provides some hope.

IWDA works with local partners both in Myanmar and along its borders to promote the security and power of women from Myanmar.

A few achievements of IWDA and our partners last year


people attended workshops on women’s rights, violence against women and democratic governance


young women graduated from the Karen Young Women’s Leadership School on the Myanmar border


women from the Shan Women’s Action Network completed an eight-month young women’s leadership program

Three women stand outside a library in Myanmar
Working together in Myanmar. Photo: Bettina Baldeschi

Myanmar facts

51.5 million

population of Myanmar


number of ethnic groups


displaced people (inside and outside Myanmar)

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