SNLD Candidate: ‘Women Carry Our Children on Our Backs as We Work for Equality’

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The Taunggyi-based Nang Mya Oo is currently serving as the chairperson for the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) in the Shan State capital. However, she will run for election in Karenni (Kayah) State in the 2020 general election on November 8.

It will be her second time as a candidate running for office—in 2015, she tried to represent Taunggyi’s Constituency 1, but was defeated.

SHAN spoke with her about her electoral plans and her political priorities.

Nang Mya Oo chairperson of Shan Nationalities League for Democracy SNLD Taunggyi
Nang Mya Oo chairperson of Shan Nationalities League for Democracy SNLD Taunggyi

Why did you decide to run for election in Kayah State?

I am going to contest the election in Mese Township in Kayah State. Mese Township is undeveloped in terms of politics and development. No local people will contest the election, so they requested electoral candidates. As a woman, I think we should run for the House of Nationalities [Upper House], because the SNLD only won three seats in the House of Nationalities in the 2015 general election. Only two female electoral candidates from the SNLD will contest the election in Kayah State, including me. So we should run for election there.  

What kinds of challenges do you have as a woman in running for election?

There are many challenges. The fee for the election insurance premium is 300,000 kyat (US$224). It is really difficult for some female electoral candidates to pay this election insurance premium. Another thing is that security is a big challenge for us. It is difficult for a female electoral candidate to travel alone in some regions during the election campaign. We need friends to travel together with us, and we have to spend money on the travel cost of our friends.

Another thing is that it’s not easy to put aside our family duties. We have to carry out these duties, too. Speaking on equality, one of our female colleagues told us that it’s not fair for ethnic people to join a race when [it is like] our legs have been broken. For women, we also have to carry our children on our backs as we work for equality.  

If you win the election, what issues are you going to prioritize?

It depends on the needs of my constituency as well as the state. Currently, there is no border trade in Kayah State. Can I open that door? But first we have find out why border trade has not developed and what kind of difficulties we would have in opening border trade. We have to seek a way to do it. I think we need a border trade policy. Another important issue is education. Local people in my constituency do not know what I am saying in this interview; there is no phone service. They are unable to use the internet. If I have a chance, I will prioritize the implementing of these things first.

What made you want to run for election?

I arrived on the political scene before 2015. I used to work in the Shan Culture and Literature Association, and in social volunteer groups in the past. I felt like my activities were not effective. I think if I became a parliamentarian, I would have the right to draw up policies in parliament. I would have the right to draw up a better policy for our people. That would be more effective. It made me to decide to run as an electoral candidate.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

The population of women is 2.2 percent more than the population of men in Burma. To represent the real voices of women, please vote for women candidates.

This interview was lightly edited in English for clarity.

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