The creation of the Union of Burma in 1948 emerged under the notion that Burma would be a Union of co-equal and co-independent states in the spirit of the Pang Long Agreement of 1947. However, after independence this mutual understanding between the ethnic people of Burma was lost and civil war broke out across the country that would last for decades. A military coup in 1962 abrogated the Union’s constitution and exacerbated problems for the people of Burma. Civil war in Burma still continues today in ethnic areas.
In 1999, in an effort to uphold the aims and objectives of the Pang Long Agreement, the second forum of the Women’s Organizations of Burma was held in Chiang Mai, Thailand from December 7th to 9th.
The women who attended the forum explored new ideas and shared their views on how to improve the overall situation of women in Burma, how to work together to alter traditional and deep-rooted gender stereotypes, promote the participation of women in the political sphere, and give a voice to the women of Burma who had long been silenced. During this forum, the participating women’s groups unanimously decided to form an umbrella organization comprised of pre-existing Burma women’s organizations of different ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds.
Thus, Women’s League of Burma (WLB) was established on December 9, 1999 with the aim of increasing the participation of women in the struggle for democracy and human rights, promoting women’s participation in the national peace and reconciliation process, and enhancing the role of the women of Burma at the national and international level.
There are 13 member organizations from different ethnic groups and background, working together towards the aims of WLB.
The federal democratic union of Burma is premised in genuine peace, social and political justice and gender and ethnic equality .
WLB mission is to advance the status of women toward a peaceful, just and federal democratic union of Burma.
- To work for the empowerment and advancement of the status of women
- To work for the rights of women and gender equality
- To work for the Elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women
- To work for the increased participation of women in every level of decision making in all spheres of society To participate effectively in the movement for peace, democracy and national reconciliation
- Understanding that full values are chosen freely, chosen from among alternatives, chosen after due reflection, prized and cherished, publicly affirmed, acted upon, and re part of a pattern that is a repeated action, the Women’s League of Burma has provisionally chosen nine full values to govern its work. These values are:
The Congress is the highest decision making body composed of 50-60 women from WLB and its member organizations and includes the Presidium Board, General Secretaries, Program Coordinators and Program Assistants, and representatives from member organisations.
The Policy Board is the second-highest body composed of 13 individuals from each of the member organizations. The Policy Board meets every eight months to develop strategies, formulate policies and make decisions that will impact WLB which are then implemented by the Secretariat.
Finally, the Secretariat is composed of three individuals elected by the congress for a two-year term. The Secretariat consists of the General Secretary, the Joint General Secretary I and the Joint General Secretary II and administrative and program staffs.