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A group of 24 parliamentarians, heads of business networks, women organizations and representative took part in this year's AWPC to discuss about the economic empowerment of women in the region. Along with sharing about best practices and discussion on successful strategies, two global solutions were highlighted to be the most beneficial for the region. First, it was agreed that it is imperative to bring women into the heart of the economies and second it is important to engage men -at the household, community and policy levels while working towards the economic empowerment of women.
The caucus meeting began with a panel on women empowerment in Myanmar, where our parliamentarian gained worthy insights into the policies and initiatives from various stakeholders from Myanmar. The role of technology in promoting women entrepreneurship by apps and smartphones usage was demonstrated by SMART Myanmar whose gaming apps and the concept of Sunday cafe have gained immense popularity in Myanmar. It was also unanimously agreed by all delegates that the digital aspect should be brought into all initiatives as each day our society gets more digitalized. Hon. Sandar Min also informed about the initiatives taken by the Myanmar Parliament in empowering women. Representatives of the women organizations introduced their work and also put forward how they can work together with women parliamentarians in empowering women.
This was followed by an expert panel where our parliamentarian learned from other stakeholders on their work in the region and discussed on how they could work together to reinforce synergies and increase impact in the region. Issues like gender budgeting and the factors which impede access to economic opportunities were bought forward by our panelist. It was agreed that women’s rights should not be only treated as a matter of human right but as an economical right and should be seen as an economical benefit for any society. The parliamentarians also got to learn more about the South Asia Women Network (SWAN) and the ASEAN Entrepreneur network in the region. The projects implemented by Japan International Cooperation Agency ( JICA) in the region were also found to be very insightful and the parliamentarians, were keen to learn on how they can implement similar projects back home.
As part of building their personal capacity, the parliamentarians participated in a workshop where they took part in numerous self-reflecting activities. They also reflected on their relationship with various stakeholders and how they could improve their synergies with them. Continuing to building their personal capacity, the parliamentarians shared their experience in implementing projects on empowering women at their respective countries. The sharing of best practices and challenges led to an insightful discussion on how successful ideas could be implemented in other countries of the region as well.
In keeping with the discussion of the region, we had a special panel on "Elections and Democratization in the Region" in the region. Our parliamentarians discussed the various elections which have taken or will take place in the region and its impact on democracy. Along with the various trends it was agreed that Democracy’s resilience is being tested daily, in Asia as across the world. However, it is hoped that the election victory in Malaysia is a portent towards wider democratic change in the region.
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