Doing advocacy work in a country like Myanmar can be very challenging as advocacy may be assumed to be a western ideology that threatens authority‘s control over it’s people. The highest-level authority does not encourage people to do nation wide advocacy that change their ideology and practices in their political system. This has a huge effect on any advocacy work in the country.
After I finished my on–campus phase at the School for International Training, I returned to my country, Myanmar and worked with my organization, Save the Children. I took a new role as an Advocacy Manger. During my studies at SIT, Save the Children had unified its presence in Myanmar in order to respond to new global strategies and global challenges such as accountability, transparency and sustainable programmes. This is critical to ensure more access to funding from international donor institutions and also have a greater impact of Save the Children work in Myanmar. My new role became very different from my previous job and an extremely challenging task given the current situation in Myanmar. Since I have taken courses on Policy Advocacy, I was very excited to take initiative in this new role. I learned basic concepts and strategies in Policy Advocacy in my on- campus phase, and hoped that this would contribute in developing an advocacy plan when I started my new position.
Since Save the Children is an organization that promotes child rights in every aspect of Save the Children’s programmes, my advocacy work revolved around issues of children’s rights. Recently, Save the Children implemented five major programmes: Education, Health (Nutrition, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV/AIDs, Child Survival and Environmental Health and Sanitation), HIV/AIDs prevention ,Economic Opportunity and Child Protection (Human Trafficking). Save the Children in Myanmar’s overall objective is working with partners at all levels to influence policy and practices of the government, UN agencies, International Non-governmental organisations (INGOs) and Local Non-governmental organisations (LNGOs) and partners on issues affecting the children in terms of education, health and child protection. I also planned to utilize my knowledge and skills in capacity building, partnership, participation and awareness campaign. Since I know Myanmar context very well, my experience and knowledge assisted me in developing relevant strategies for the organization.
In view of these prevailing issues, I developed an advocacy plan for Save the Children in Myanmar (SCiM) and my capstone paper will reflect the whole process I was involved in and the challenges and lessons learned while developing and implementing an advocacy plan in Myanmar. This will be also useful for others who might want to do advocacy work in Myanmar or in a country that has a similar situation and circumstances. The intent of this capstone is to provide a comprehensive view for the advocacy work in a totalitarian country and share my observations and recommendations for future implementation and the learning that I have gained during my six -month’s practicum period.
Aung, Khin Mar, "Advocacy in Myanmar: Planning for Save the Children" (2007). Capstone Collection. 9.