Gendered aspects of land rights in Myanmar: Evidence from paralegal casework

Yesterday, Namati’s Myanmar Team launched a Gender Policy Brief with recommendations to the Myanmar government and other stakeholders. The recommendations are drawn from our paralegal case data, regional experience, and Myanmar-based field visits. The report is available in both English and Burmese.

Namati offers this brief in the hope that Myanmar’s national reforms and the implementation of the country’s new National Land Use Policy can grow from the lived experience of ordinary Myanmar citizens. Namati and our partners assist farmers in Myanmar to claim their land rights through a community paralegal approach. Community paralegals are trained in relevant laws, community education, negotiation, and mediation skills to work with farmers to resolve a variety of land rights issues. Dozens of data points are documented as part of each case resolution process that illustrate how the legal framework functions in practice. It is this casework data that underpins this policy brief. Focus groups and interviews with paralegals and clients further provide qualitative context and insights.

Namati recommends actions the Myanmar government can take as part of implementing its new National Land Use Policy to help increase women’s engagement in land use management and access to tenure rights. This briefing also provides recommendations for civil society organizations interested in the community paralegal model, and, in particular, in increasing the number of women paralegals in the country as a means of women’s empowerment.

Congratulations to @nantthithioo, @caitlinpierce, @nyinyihtwe and the whole Myanmar Team on this important policy brief.


Great job!


@nyinyihtwe, @caitlinpierce, @nantthithioo and the rest of the Myanmar team - thanks so much for writing this great brief - it is an excellent resource. @doegbazee and @davidarach, read this when you get a chance!


Congrats Myanmar team!

I really love the use of the paralegal case data and client case studies to illustrate the intersections between gender and land rights in the country and to inform policy recommendations - as well as the exploration of what it means to be a female paralegal working on land!

@marenabrinkhurst @Lore @AJK @hsw2005 @kesan @hegemo @nlwin - I would love to hear what you think on this piece as well - and what similar or different gender issues have come up in your land work!


An op-ed to accompany!


Congrats on the op-ed! :rocket:

Can you tell us a bit about the photo and how you came to take it? I find it really intriguing.

Dear Laura,This is not your experience only, I have had problems in getting women in becoming community paralegals because of culture notion which ascend that a woman has no capacity to advice men,Men feel and have imparted this belief that there are the only ones with wisdom to advice or carry out paralegal works.We need to cultivate the culture of collective participation in paralegal works.The battle continues to educate our women that they have the same rights us men.The challenge is that I get more than 60% of women in any community set up meanwhile they have only 25% share of the community land holding. I have introduced land certification as means of protecting women land rights.This is also a battle because the land Land Act allows all customary land to be managed according to the traditional norms in a particular area. This promotes customs which do not give the women rights on land but a tool to use on land for men ,children and other dependents.After a lot of work on sensitizing the communities on the roles of women in community governance and advocating for change of some of customs which relate to a woman as second class citizen, has contributed a lot in fostering women participation in land governance and own land in their own rights.Lets share experiences on this subject.Laura, has Myanmar one tenure system or it has two tenure system like Zambia(customary and statutory tenure)?Best regardsAndrew


Sure! I took this photo in a Chin village where we have one of our paralegals working. Chin is one of the outlying ethnic groups in Myanmar and a very remote/hard to reach, mountainous place. The Chin also practice patrilineal inheritance. The woman in this photo does not have a husband and as such cannot own land. Instead, she is a day laborer on other farmers’ plots. Here she was carrying a huge bundle up a steep hill (Chin is very mountainous) with her mother (in the background) and young daughter (not pictured).


I am the Director of Microjusticia Perú, a legal empowerment NGO which is member of the Microjustice4All international network. In Latin America (Perú, Bolivia, Argentina) we always have more women paralegals than men in our teams. Our strategy for rural/indigenous areas is training law and social science students paralegals who accompany and empower rural leaders to become paralegals. The issue around land tenure is the same in our countries. Is very interesting to hear your experiences.


Thank you for sharing this, @nyinyihtwe @nantthithioo @caitlinpierce and @lauragoodwin - it is a great report, very clear and nicely put together. A great example of using case data to inform advocacy! :thumbsup:

I noticed that there is no mention of collective or communal lands in the report, as it is focused primarily on individual/family lands - apart from one of the pie charts that mentions Community Forest and Forest cases. Have you dug into issues around women’s rights in the context of community lands or common lands/forests at all? And could you tell us more about those Community Forest and Forest cases?

In your recommendations to the government on their land use policy, what is your strategy around recommending protections for communal resources and lands - as they relate women’s rights specifically, but also more generally? From my perspective, actions by the government concerning

women’s engagement in land use management and access to tenure rights

should absolutely address questions of communal resources - in particular for areas of the county where communal and collectively held lands and resources are still vital - especially for women, who often use them more extensively. It would seem that focusing only on individual land titling when it comes to making gender recommendations leaves out very important considerations for the national government. Perhaps our partner @kesan (working in Karen State) has some thoughts about women’s rights in contexts of communally held lands and resources?

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Thanks for your questions Marena. The new National Land Use policy is quite comprehensive and addresses communal lands, though lots to be done in terms of writing the necessary laws and regs to implement it.

Our focus on titling and land grabs in this brief was primarily due to the fact that they comprise the vast majority of our cases, and so in terms of data, provide us the strongest basis for analysis and recommendations.

A lot of communal land practices in Myanmar are in ethnic areas/states where the Myanmar program does not work- but KESAN does! Would be keen to hear more from them! And it raises a good idea about possibly collaborating on a policy brief in the future.


Very good to see that.

This is Burmese op-Ed


Congratulations @nantthithioo on Namati’s first Burmese op-ed! And, in leading national news outlet! Could you type up the brief highlights in English that you shared before publishing it so the broader community can know what it’s about? :slight_smile:


Congrats @nantthithioo on publishing an op-ed in The Irrawaddy! I’ll be interested to hear what kind of response it gets!


Burmese op-ed brief

  1. Start a story of joint land registration successful case couple!
  2. Ask question about if similar case like these couple happened in your family, how do we solve a problem?
  3. Explain about Namati’s data finding of land registration gender ratio.
  4. Highlight of National land use policy’s Part IX Equal rights of men and women
  5. Case of Jue Mar who receive land from her parents and apply joint land registration with her husband.
  6. Work of Namati on gender issue related with land and some findings of government officials’ feedback related joint land case.
  7. Recommendations to government and community people.