Pathways to economic and political empowerment for ethnic minority women in Myanmar – Gender equality and decentralization

In 2017, to sustain Myanmar’s democratic transition, IDRC and Global Affairs Canada launched Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar, an initiative to nurture meaningful engagement and promote economic growth benefitting women and men, regardless of ethnicity. Working with other development partners, the initiative targets diverse and complementary entry points to strengthen analytical thinking and research capacity through capacity development for individuals, including emerging researchers, civil society, and policymakers. It also targets engagement and collaboration through roundtables, conferences, workshops, and other forms of policy dialogue, and capacity development for institutions, providing support for think tanks and governments. Finally, it funds research projects on the topics of inclusive democratic governance and economic development.

This project will use a participatory, community-level approach to examine women’s economic and political empowerment in seven ethnic communities in Shan State (Danu, Intha, and Pa-O in southern Shan State and Akha, Lahu, Palaung, and Shan in eastern Shan State).

Pathways to economic and political empowerment tend to be inextricably linked. The project will examine cultural and social norms at the household and community level that affect women’s economic and political participation; the commonalities and differences across ethnic groups; the impact of decentralization on women’s participation in economic and political decision-making; and current initiatives to increase women’s economic and political participation at the local level.

The project will put forward culturally-sensitive and gender-transformative recommendations using practical examples from fieldwork in the villages. These recommendations will inform integrated initiatives and influence policy through discussion and uptake among local and regional decision-makers in Shan State. The Myanmar Institute for Integrated Development, together with four well-established grass-roots organizations across the southern and eastern regions of Shan State, will jointly deliver the project.

Project ID


Project status



30 months

IDRC Officer

Edgard Rodriguez

Total funding

CA$ 303,800




Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar

Project Leader

Whitney Huntley


Myanmar Institute for Integrated Development Limited

Institution Country


Institution Website