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OWSD Myanmar launches National Chapter

November 26, 2018

Myanmar National Chapter launches in Yangon.

On 5 November 2018, the Myanmar National Chapter of OWSD was officially launched at the Chatrium Royal Lake Hotel in Yangon.

The launch event, which also celebrated the 25th Anniversary of OWSD, was attended by 70 participants, including members of the Myanmar National Chapter, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and special guests and invited speakers from the academic and government sectors. 

The event was opened by Poe Kaung, rector of the University of Yangon, who warmly welcomed the launch of OWSD Myanmar and expressed his interest to cooperate with the National Chapter in the future. Tonya Blowers, OWSD Programme Coordinator, then delivered a presentation on OWSD opportunities and funding for young and senior scientists, and also discussed opportunities for regional National Chapters to share their networks. She was followed by Thi Thi Mar, the first Chair of the OWSD Myanmar National Chapter, who introduced the Myanmar National Chapter in detail.

The day's programme continued with presentations by several invited speakers, including: Khin Khin Win, professor and head of the Department of Physics at Yangon University, who spoke about "The role and challenges of Myanmar women in higher education centers”; Ohm Mar Lynn, professor and head of the Agricultural Biotechnology Department at Yezin Agricultural University, who discussed “The role of women scientists in agricultural sectors”; and Tin Tin Khaing, professor and a member of the OWSD Myanmar National Chapter who presented on “Systems and challenges of education in universities.”

Further presentations included Phyu Sin Thant, Senior Agronomist from the Myanmar Institute for Integrated Development, who shared her experiences and difficulties in improving marketing opportunities for smallholder farmers -- especially women. Amy Thein, Senior Associate Scientist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and an organizing member of the Myanmar National Chapter, talked about the application of advanced technologies to research, explaining the constraints and opportunities provided by new technologies with respect to climate-resilient farming methods. Myo Ma Ma Than, Programme Manager of the Network Activities Group (NAG), discussed the empowerment of women in the Man Pan Township in Shan State and Kayin state, Myanmar. Finally, Thu Nandar Nyein, treasurer of the National Chapter, presented on  the risks and challenges of women's empowerment in science and technology. 

To wrap up the launch, all participants were asked to form small groups in order to brainstorm future ideas for the OWSD Myanmar National Chapter. Closing remarks were then delivered by Thi Thi Mar, who expressed her commitment to lead the National Chapter in strengthening their involvement in the research and development agenda of Myanmar, as well as globally. 

The launch event was featured on Myanmar government broadcasting station MRTV on the evening of the occasion, with interviews from several of the invited guests.

That evening, the National Chapter launch as well as the 25th Anniversary of OWSD were celebrated with special guests from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Biplove Choudhary, Chief of the Sustainable Inclusive Growth Unit, delivered a short speech at dinner expressing his willingness to support and work together with the OWSD Myanmar National Chapter in the near future. He encouraged the participating scientists to consider dimensions of their work relating to practical utilization and marketability.

The evening closed with remarks from Thi Thi Mar, who thanked all members of the new National Chapter who helped to organize the event. Finally, OWSD's 25th birthday was celebrated with a cake-cutting by Thi Thi Mar together with Tonya Blowers.
 
Tonya said it was crucial for her to visit this group of women. “I often refer to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics data that over 85% of researchers in Myanmar are women," she said. "This certainly seemed to be the case – but at what cost? Only one of the women from a group of 30 I spoke to had children. All the others saw a clear choice between career and family and were happy to have chosen career. For this reason, the OWSD National Chapter has become almost a family for them. But this seems a very high price to pay and suggests that we must look deep into the data to understand why the numbers are the way they are.”

The logo of the Myanmar National Chapter features a woman with a graduation cap centered between three rings of an atom; the red ring symbolizing health, yellow symbolizing education,  and green symbolizing the environment. The atom is contained within an outer hexagon representing communication, balance and unity. Explained Thi Thi Mar, "The logo represents all educated women from Myanmar leading and collaborating to create a sustainable environment for healthy and safe lives." 

There were 30 registered OWSD members in Myanmar at the time of the National Chapter launch. The National Chapter can be contacted through Ms. Nyo Nyo Mar at nyonyomarupm [at] gmail.com. 

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