IDRC-EMRef Myanmar Gender Equality Research Project


This research project is generously funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Global Affairs Canada (GAC) under the new Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar (K4DM) initiative to assist Myanmar-based research organizations to conduct high-quality research.

Specifically, our project focuses on improving the research capacity of an NGO, Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation (EMReF) and in collecting new data on the recruitment and candidate selection methods to address barriers to political participation in Myanmar. Entitled “Engendering Political Recruitment and Participation at the Party, Local and National Level in Myanmar”, this three year project (2018-2020) will produce 2 working papers, 1 comparative country report and 1 final report by the end of 2020.

Project Updates

Webinar: “Towards Gender Equality: Implications for Myanmar’s 2020 Elections” (27 Oct 2020). Netina Tan and Paul Minoletti present an overview of their research products and key findings and recommendations on the political status of women.

Final Synthesis Report Published (October 2020). The final synthesis report for the EMRef-IDRC project was published, titled “Gender and Political Participation in Myanmar.” This report represents key findings from the three year research project examining gender and political participation in Myanmar. Access the final synthesis report online.

Working Paper 2 Published (September 2020). The second working paper for the EMRef-IDRC project was published, titled “Gender and Local Politics in Myanmar: Women’s and Men’s Participation in Ward, Village Tract and Village Decision Making”. The paper focuses on gender equity at the local level, exploring men’s and women’s participation at ward, village-tract, and local levels. Access Working Paper 2 online.

Webinar: “Will More Women Join Politics in the 2020 Myanmar Elections?” (30 June 2020). In this webinar organized by Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar (K4DM), Netina Tan (McMaster) and Erik Martinez Kuhonta (McGill) presented on women’s political engagement and parliamentary representation in Myanmar’s upcoming elections.

Webinar: “What does Myanmar’s Peace Process Mean for the 2020 Elections?” (9 June 2020). In a talk organized by Global Affairs Canada, IDRC, and Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar (K4DM), Netina Tan (McMaster) and Kai Ostwald (UBC) presented on the political representation of ethnic minorities and women in Myanmar’s elections. They explored challenges and possibilities for inclusion in the upcoming 2020 elections, discussing factors including the electoral system, party composition, geographic concentration of ethnic groups, and malapportionment.

Working Paper 1 Published (April 2020). The first working paper for the EMRef-IDRC project was published, titled “Party Building and Candidate Selection – Promoting Gender Equality in Myanmar”. This paper investigates why politics in Myanmar remain male-dominated, drawing from data collected in 72 interviews with members from nine political parties to provide recommendations. Access Working Paper 1 online.

Elite Interview Trainings (October 2018). To prepare the EMRef team and the stipendiaries to conduct 70 elite interviews in Dec 2018-Jan 2019, Paul and Netina conducted two days of interview training at EMRef focusing on interview objectives, questions, protocols, transcriptions, translation, data storage and security problems in the field.

Team Meeting (October 2018). During this research design meeting, our full international team gathered at EMRef office to brainstorm and discuss research design template, division of labour between qualitative and quantitative teams, data collection, aggregation and analysis challenges, and research deliverables for the next three years.

Gender Analysis Training (October 2018). Elin conducted three days of training on gender analysis, political participation and research methods for the EMRef research team and stipendiaries. She also shares many of her practical experiences conducting gender-based violence fieldwork in Thailand and Myanmar with the team.

Scoping Mission (July 2018). Together with key EMRef team members, Guillem and Netina conducted pilot elite interviews and focus group discussions in Yangon and outer regions. With the help of Paul, the team also spent two days refining the qualitative research design, timeline of activities, improving the interview questions and expected outcomes of the overall research project.

Research Team


EMRef Team Members

Myat The Thitsar (EMRef Project Leader) is the CEO and Research Director of EMReF with almost 9 years of experience as a social researcher in the field of local governance, local political economy, access to justice and informal justice, and social relations.

Aye Lei Tun (EMRef Project Manager) is the current Program Manager (Livelihoods & Gender) of EMReF and has over 8 years of experience in the communications and media field and over 5 years of experience in gender and media research.

International Academic Team

Netina Tan (Principle Applicant and Lead Academic Researcher) is an Associate Professor of Political Science at McMaster University, Canada with over 10 years of field research experience in Southeast Asia, including elite and non-elite interviews, surveys, and research on elections, security issues, governance and political representation of women and ethnic minorities.

Paul Minoletti (Consultant) is an independent Myanmar-based researcher with a DPhil (PhD) in Economic and Social History from The University of Oxford with over 5 years of experience conducting policy research in Myanmar, much of which has focused and gender and political participation.

Meredith Weiss (Academic Advisor) is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Albany, SUNY with over 20 years of field experience research in Southeast Asia, including training, elite and non-elite interviews, surveys, and research on political participation, gender, and elected officials

Elin Bjarnegård (Academic Advisor) is a Senior Lecturer in Development Studies at Uppsala University, Sweden with over 10 years of field research experience in Southeast Asia, including training, interviews with political party gatekeepers, candidates and political network members, and large and small scale surveys.

Michelle Dion (Academic Advisor) is an Associate Professor of Political Science at McMaster University with 15 years of experience teaching introductory statistical methods to students and expertise in quantitative data analysis, mixed methods research designs, comparative politics, and gender.

Guillem Riambau-Armet (Academic Advisor) is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Yale-NUS, Singapore with extensive training experience in Singapore, field research experience in Southeast Asia, and teaching experience on qualitative and quantitative methods at the undergraduate level.