Women, Inclusion and the Constitutional Settlement in Burma

Women, Inclusion and the Constitutional Settlement in Burma

Friday, 24 January 2014 - 2:00pm
Venue: 
Old Library, Lady Margaret Hall
Speaker(s): 
Janelle Saffin (Former Australian MP)
Series: 
Burma/Myanmar Events in Oxford

Decades have passed since Burma ratified the key treaties addressing gender discrimination: the Convention on the Political Rights of Married Women and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Yet women remain mostly invisible in the public sphere of Burma’s body politic. Drawing on her extensive experience in Burma training politicians and empowering political parties, Janelle will explore the role gender has played in Burma’s recent constitutional development. She will argue that women have been denied inclusion as much as, if not more than, ethnic nationalities and democrats and that this history of exclusion poses a critical risk in the current phase of constitutional reform.

About the speaker

Janelle Saffin is a lawyer, activist and politician. She served in State and Federal Australian Parliaments for over a decade and remains a senior member of the Australian Labor Party, chairing its International Party Development Committee

In Federal Parliament Janelle was a Parliamentary Party Whip, a key member of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, active in the Defence sub-committee, Chair of the Trade sub-committee, and Chaired the powerful Joint House Public Works Committee.

Working for United Nations Development Programme, she was Special Adviser in a critical period to H.E Mr. Sukehiro Hasegawa, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Timor-Leste. Between 2004 and 2007, she served as Principal Policy Advisor (Political and Legal) to President, Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs & Cooperation, and Minister for Defence H.E. Jose Ramos-Horta.

An active member of the Burma Lawyers Council, advisor to key organisations, including the United Nationalities Federal Council, she has extensive experience and expertise in legal and constitutional matters regarding Burma.

Janelle founded and chaired the Australia-Myanmar Parliament Group, hosting events for Myanmar’s Parliament. She has worked with all Burmese organisations and notably the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

She is patron of the newly formed Myanmar Constitutional Reform Project led by the University of Sydney and patron of the Australia-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce.