Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Myanmar are mostly community-based groups which are informal or voluntary associations formed at village level within religious groups. The community based groups normally focus on poverty, health, and daily needs of communities. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are normally found in cities, townships or populated centers. They are normally connected to regional, national or even with international NGOs. Domestic civil society groups are increasingly networked into the international development and rights-based communities.
During election period, the CSO groups in Myanmar have played an important roles in providing civic education and voter education at the local levels, inclusion of disabilities and minority groups, women empowerment, and etc. Many of the community-based groups have turned themselves into public outreach groups working to educate grassroots about how to vote as a big number of electorates were unaware of the electoral process and rights to vote, as well as observing the elections throughout the country. The supportive contribution of civil society has provided much-needed legitimacy and popular weight to the democratic transition.
According to an IFES public opinion survey during 2015 Elections, found that only about one in five citizens said they had either a great deal (1%) or a fair amount (20%) of information about the elections, while 33% did not have much information and 46% did not have any information at all.
The youth and students have always played an important role in uniting the people to call for restoration of democracy. Since the student movement in 1988, the ex members of the student movement have now become legislators, members of position political parties, leaders of national women’s movement and etc.
Civil Society Briefs Myanmar, Asian Development Bank, February, 2015, http://www.themimu.info/sites/themimu.info/files/documents/Ref_Doc_Brief_on_CSO_and_NGOs_ADB_Feb2015_0.pdf.
The role of civil society in Burma’s transition to democracy, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), http://aappb.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/The-Role-of-Civil-Society-in-Burmas-Transition-to-Democracy.pdf
Partnering with Myanmar’s Civil Society to Build Democracy, IFES, December 16, 2015, http://www.ifes.org/news/partnering-myanmars-civil-society-build-democracy.
LINK : Political Parties in Burma Strengthened by Increased Women’s Political Participation – IRI’s Leadership Training School (LTS) for prospective women candidates holds 3-day workshop for women candidates representing 47 political parties from most of Burma’s states and regions
PDF : U.S. Assistance for Elections and Political Process (USAID: 2015)