“Contributing to women’s full enjoyment of human rights is a cornerstone in Swedish foreign policy”

RWI recently held a workshop on the prevention of violence against women in Myanmar for the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission.

We asked a few questions to Johan Hallenborg, Minister Counsellor, Head of Swedish Embassy Section Office in Yangon.

He gave the opening remarks for the workshop. There he underlined Sweden’s continued focus on women’s rights and also said that the workshop was timely, as it would contribute towards the feedback for a draft law on prevention of violence against women.

Johanhallenborg2Can you describe why it is important that RWI supports the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission to do such workshops in the country?

The national human rights commission in Myanmar is still a young commission which is in a formative stage. To establish itself as a capable and credible institution is essential, and organizing workshops on relevant topics such as violence against women is a way to contribute to this work. A key issue is that the commission actively includes many different stakeholders in their work, including the civil society.

What do you see Sweden’s role is in relation to protection of women and women’s rights in the country and the challenges you anticipates?

To contribute to women’s full enjoyment of human rights is a cornerstone in Swedish foreign policy as well as in the strategy for our work in Myanmar. Support to relevant civil society organisations and networks are key features of our development cooperation in this aspect. Considering the many different ethnic groups in Myanmar, a particular focus is on women in ethnic areas.

We also strongly believe that women’s effective participation in the peace process in Myanmar contributes to a more equitable and just peace. Therefore we also focus on how UN Security Council Resolution 1325 can be operationalized in the Myanmar context. We have several initiatives here, but more can and will be done in the future. I also think that it will be important for us in the future to increasingly highlight men’s role in this work.

The increased focus on equality and women’s enjoyment of human rights by our Minister for Foreign Affairs has certainly also created new impetus and energy in this work.

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