Since the end of the military junta, independent civil society initiatives have been developing rapidly around the country. While the current civilian government maintains a considerable amount of control over the society, it has introduced a number of liberal reforms that has allowed for non-governmental organizations’ activities.
Activities of these groups are fundamental for the country's shift towards democracy. Civil society is made up of groups and institutions that are independent of the state and represent the often marginalized voices of women, students, farmers, environmentalists and others.
Social Cohesion Programme
Two of the most important concepts in Myanmar culture are metta (loving kindness) and karuna (compassion). But emerging from more than 60 years of isolation and conflict there are, understandably, high levels fear and anxiety and these core concepts are being challenged. Rapid exposure to the ‘outside’ world has created misunderstandings and questions of identity, creating violent conflict in certain areas.
This programme began in early 2015 and seeks to address communal violence by working alongside communities, CSOs and civil society and religious leaders to raise awareness and share the skills needed for harmonious living (stress and anger management, non-violent communication, critical thinking skills etc.) and creating opportunities for shared experience to increase trust and confidence, while lowering fear and stereotypes.
Building on PIN’s history and established networks with civil society in Myanmar, this programme introduces a peacebuilding lens to create opportunities for positive engagement and a better understanding of the interdependence healthy communities must have to survive and thrive.
Working mainly with communities in Mon and Kayin states, the programme works both at grassroots and civil society leadership levels to mobilize and empower local communities, particularly women and youth leaders, to bridge divides and gain the skills necessary to find win-win solutions for issues common to all groups. With an increased awareness and understanding of the benefits of diversity, communities can begin to work towards solutions that build on existing, common strengths. Activities include: training community leaders (in systems thinking, situation analysis, community dialogue, participatory decision-making processes etc.), supporting civil society initiatives through sub-grants, identifying and working closely with a handful of civil society organizations to increase their capacity for analysis, community project design, and managing projects, supporting networks and information sharing for best practices and lessons learned.
Support of civil society
People in Need in Myanmar supports community based and civil society organisations in 4 geographical areas – Shan state, Kayin, Mon and Mandalay. Mainly in ethnical states, where it has been supporting community based organisations and civil society activists and increase awareness of human rights in communities. These organisations are offered technical trainings and opportunity to attend networking meetings. The possibility of meeting with other organisations/initiatives and to cooperate together is considered by these organisations as the most important. PIN is supporting activities within civic journalism, civic education and human rights.
PIN has been working through its local partners organisations. Thanks to partners organisations can People in Need effectively help the communities, that actively try to improve conditions of its members and help them to promote compliance of human rights. Moreover residents of different regions could attend trainings about upcoming elections and improve their knowledge about their voting rights. Awareness about electoral system, particularly in remote areas, is very low and many citizens did not know their voting rights and did not have any experience with elections before the trainings.
People in Need has been developing educational and methodical materials for CBOs/ CSOs that enable them to organise human rights and civic education trainings. Likewise has been People in Need focusing on individual support of CBOs/CSOs by providing consultations and opportunities to participate in internships in Burma or abroad (Czech Republic or other EU countries). Every year are 3 representants of burmese society sent to Czech Republic and thus get opportunity to learn about the czech nonprofit sector and learn managerial and advocacy skills. An added benefit of these trips is that the participants can also share transformative experience and learn about experience of transition to democracy in the Czech and Central European countries.