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Call for concept notes: Research on Myanmar’s decentralization and gender equality

How to apply

Applications for up to four projects lasting up to 36 months for a maximum total budget of CA$400,000.

Interested organizations should submit to by August 7, 2017, 11:45 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time/ 10:30 a.m. (Yangon time):

When preparing your application, please consult our evaluation and selection criteria (PDF, 203KB).

Funding scope and duration

Grants up to CA$400,000 over a period up to 36 months.

IDRC and Global Affairs Canada (GAC) are launching this research call under a new initiative called Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar (K4DM) with the aim to assist Myanmar-based research organizations to conduct high-quality research. The call addresses the need for high-quality research on democracy and growth seen through the lens of gender equality.

Who can apply

Ideal applicants are Myanmar-based researchers with expertise and experience in economics, public finance, gender, political science, and other related social sciences. The multi-disciplinary team is to be led by a local or international project leader within a consortium of local or international research organizations, with a track-record of research and policy engagement in Myanmar.


As an emerging democracy, Myanmar faces many challenges, particularly with respect to poverty and vulnerability. Through this ongoing transition towards democratic systems, there are numerous changes in the political, social, economic and administrative spheres. These changes can only be effective if men and women of all ethnicities participate actively in the democratic transition and work towards inclusive economic growth. The process requires a population that engages in meaningful dialogue with its government using locally generated data, evidence, and analysis. Without such locally relevant information and analysis, well-intentioned policies often do not respond to realities on the ground.

Considering that Myanmar was ruled by a male dominated military regime for almost four decades, women did not influence policymaking and therefore decisions were based on the perspectives of men. This is gradually changing with events like the November 2015 election, however great progress still has to be made. Women currently fill only 10.5% of the national parliament seats, and only two women are military appointees (1.2% of military appointees). Women make up more than half of Myanmar’s population, yet men take the lead in the labour force with 85.2%.

Over the decades of military rule, information sharing, research, and freedom of speech were severely restricted. Due to the absence of information, there is a lack of reliable data related to gender inequality. However, since 2011, the government of Myanmar has shown initiative in improving research and analytical skills and is seeking sound advice from different quarters. This has led to an increase in published investigations and a fast growing number of researchers from universities, think tanks, and civil society at large.

Despite these improvements, policy relevant research in Myanmar remains in its infancy. Additionally, there is still a widespread view that gender inequality either does not exist or does not matter in Myanmar. Research needs to give way to a better understanding of how democracy, decentralization, and growth can gain from promoting gender equality through effective action by government and civil society.

The initiative

Canada, through the IDRC and GAC, is launching K4DM, an initiative to expand the research and analytical capacity of local organizations, public officials, and civil society; to serve as a platform to bring together Myanmar’s diverse constituencies; and to provide opportunities for citizens to participate in the reform process. 

As part of this initiative, Canada seeks to strengthen the capacity of local research organizations to undertake research with a gender lens.

You can read more about the Initiative at

Applicants are encouraged to read and review the background paper “Gender Inequalities in a Decentralized Myanmar” (PDF, 168KB) by Dr. Paul Minoletti (April 2017).  

Proposed research projects should be focused on gender under either of the two following topics:

  1. Gender inequality in political participation
  2. Gender-sensitive budgeting and public service delivery

Research outputs would take the form of working papers for peer-review and publication. Each project will need to produce at least two peer-reviewed research outputs such as:

  • Baseline studies: identifying value-added directions for follow-up research, while generating interest in the research agenda and identifying potential partners and policy stakeholders. The baseline studies would involve primary data collection and report on the findings.
  • Synthesis reports: building on baseline studies, synthesis reports would determine to what extent research from the proposed project has succeeded in filling research gaps. The audience for these reports will be the policy and research community.
  • Regional comparative studies: ideally identifying a critical knowledge gap in Myanmar that  can benefit from lessons learned from other regional experiences. This could include undertaking studies similar to those in other Asian countries, and visiting and engaging researchers from other Asian countries as advisors. Funding can be used for both research in Myanmar as well as research conducted in surrounding regional countries. 

ANNEX A: Submitting a research concept note

Please submit your concept note to by August 7, 2017, 12:00 am (midnight) Eastern Daylight Time/ 10:30 am (Yangon time).

Name of main institution, working title, and project leader.

Development problem and objectives:

​​What development problem will your research address? Why is it important to address this challenge in Myanmar?  What are the main objectives for your proposed activity? How will you achieve them? (please do not exceed 500 words).

Project methodology and activities:

​​Please describe what methodology (or theory of change) is proposed, and what types of activities the project will undertake to meet the project objectives (presented above). Please bear in mind the need to address gender in your analysis (please do not exceed 500 words).

Expected outputs and outcomes:

​​Concept notes must concretely explain the links between the expected results during the project and the final outcomes expected at the end of the project. Please bear in mind the impact on gender equality (please do not exceed 150 words).

Communication strategy:

​​Concept notes must include a draft communications and research uptake plan for sharing project results in Myanmar, such as dissemination and engagement objectives, target audiences, and any innovative communications tools (please do not exceed 150 words).

Institutional information:

​​This section should answer the following question: How is the mandate and work of your institution related to the Myanmar’s decentralized, democratic development and gender equality?. Please include a brief description of past relevant projects and past funding. If your institution will be partnering with another organization, be sure to explain the nature of the relationship (please do not exceed 150 words).

Risks and mitigation; outstanding ethical considerations:

​​Please describe any risks that could result in the project not achieving its objectives and how these risks will be mitigated. Please also identify any ethical considerations for this project (please do not exceed 150 words).

Budget and timeline:

​​Please attach a Proposal budget that includes the following categories: salaries, consultants, equipment, international travel, research expenses, evaluation, training, and indirect costs (administration). The budget is to be in local currency (Kyat), for an equivalent not to exceed CA$400,000 (foreign exchange risks are borne by the applicants). Please add a timeline for a maximum of 36 months (three years). Please note that IDRC policy indicates that every grant recipient should include some in-kind or cash contribution in the budget.  

Note Annex C: Please note that the selected candidate will need to provide several additional institutional documents. If an institution’s concept note is approved, it will be asked to provide IDRC with: the institution’s most recent financial statement (audited or attested), corporate documents including statutes, the organizational chart of the institution, a list of external donors and their contributions, the latest annual report, and proof of registration or a Social Security Scheme or a summary of human resources policy.