August 19, 2016

Female voters spurn female candidates: survey

Traditional views excludes women candidates from election race in the minds of most women voters

WOMEN appear to be ambivalent about the idea of being represented in parliament by women and are less interested in the general election than men, according to a survey conducted by a local non-government organisation called Women’s Political Actions.
The organisation published the survey results in a report titled ‘Voters’ Choice and the Inclusion of Women in the 2015 Election’ yesterday.
Funded by the Burma Civil Society Strengthening Programme (AMATAE), Women’s Political Actions (WPA) carried out the survey in every state and region in Myanmar during the months of May and June this year, with the aim of gaining insights into public perceptions about the 8 November elections.
The survey included 1,260 respondents, 70 percent of whom were women. Most respondents had received a formal education and their average age was 36.
WPA’s information officer    Daw Pyo Let Han said the survey mainly focused on voting practices, views on women leaders, political engagement of male and female voters and efforts at greater inclusion of women in political affairs.
According to the survey, 50 percent of the respondents said they would vote for talented women who have demonstrated great leadership skills. However, most female respondents said they would not vote for female candidates. By contrast, the majority of male respondents said they would vote for women.
Daw Thin Thin Aung, who works for a local organisation that promotes women’s empowerment, noted, “This poses a huge challenge to female candidates.”
Prevailing cultural attitudes toward the role of women in society are the main barriers to female candidates’ perceived electability, according to 44 percent of the respondents.
When asked if they would vote based on policies, 60 percent of respondents replied in the affirmative. Twenty percent of respondents – especially those in Rakhine and Mon states – said they would vote for parties that represent their own ethnic group.
WPA also found that public awareness campaigns and door-to-door canvassing are the most effective campaign methods. The survey found that 55 percent of respondents said they get election information from newspapers and other media, while only five percent of respondents actively sought information from the Union Election Commission. The survey shows that the ratio of women’s participation in the election has increased since Myanmar’s last democratic election was held 25 years ago. However, a political analyst familiar with the survey said it would be unlikely that the proportion of women in parliament would exceed 10 percent.


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