Women have been underrepresented in formal roles throughout the ongoing peace process. In the 2015 negotiations leading up to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, only 5 percent of negotiators were women. Though women’s participation was higher in the multiple rounds of the 21st Century Panglong Conference (Union Peace Conference)—fluctuating from 13 percent of the delegates in August 2016 to 17 percent in May 2017, 22 percent in July 2018, and 17 percent in August 2020, according to the Alliance for Gender Inclusion in the Peace Process—it has not yet reached the 30 percent target the conflict parties committed to in 2016.
Women’s groups have been viewed as honest brokers, have built public support for the extended talks, and have—at great risk—led local campaigns to address underlying causes of the conflict. They were instrumental in launching and participating in a series of civil society peace forums to convey civil society priorities in the official process.