On International Women’s Day, more women still needed at top decision maker level in Myanmar

Insights and recommendations for Gender Equality in Public Administration in Myanmar

March 9, 2020

Proportion of women and men in Myanmar’s Civil Service by rank as of 2018

Source: Gender Equality in Public Administration (GEPA) Myanmar case study (2019), UNDP

Myanmar is a leader in women’s participation in the Civil Service, with women representing 63% of the civil servants in Myanmar, one of the highest participation rates for women in the UNDP GEPA series of study.

The Gender Equality in Public Administration (GEPA) - Myanmar Case Study is a comprehensive analysis of the workforce composition of the Myanmar civil service. It situates where women are positioned in public administration, providing baseline data to inform policy making for better gender equality.

The study offers unparalleled granularity and reveals striking patterns of gender imbalance between ministries, ranks and state and regional level. It identifies specific barriers for women and men, and recommends modern human resource management techniques to improve gender balance and the effectiveness of the civil service.

As of 2018, there were 1,007,095 civil servants and 96.1% of them were employed with union-level ministries.

Women are strongly represented in the Myanmar civil service and made up 63% of all civil servants in Myanmar.

The GEPA reveals striking gender imbalances between and within government agencies. Some have high proportions of men and others have high proportion of women. For example, the proportion of women was 28% in the Ministry of Home Affairs and 79% in the Ministry of Education. Despite large proportions of women in many ministries, this has not necessarily translated into more women in decision making roles.

Women are under-represented in decision-making. Women held less than 30% of Director-General positions in all but three ministries.

In 2018, women held no senior position in State and Regional Governments. Only 10% of gazette roles in the General Administration Department are women.

Women civil servant interviewing a women service user on her perception of government services. 2019


The GEPA study evidences multiple opportunities to improve the gender balance in Myanmar’s civil service and to put into practice the legal provisions of non-discrimination. This includes strengthening HR practices in line with the policy tools developed to implement the Civil Service Reform (CSR) Action Plan.

Enhance transparency in all steps of recruitment and promotion. Set standards and implement a unified policy.

Set criteria and unified standards for designating the ‘nature of work suitable for men only’

Take measures within the rotation system to ease the current difficult work–life balance situation of civil servants e.g. specifying length of the posting at new duty stations or facilitating postings in home locations

Consider women’s work–life situation when planning capacity-building and in providing leadership/ management training to civil servants.

Introduce proactive measures to enhance the proportions of women and/or men as required to achieve enhanced gender equality within the civil service.

Modern Human Resource (HR) practices are at the core of unlocking the potential of Myanmar’s civil service and a tool to improve gender equality. In partnership with UNDP Leadership, Effectiveness, Adaptability and Professionalism (LEAP) project and in consultation with government agencies, the UCSB proposed three policy tools that improve HR Management and the position of women.

(1)    The Myanmar Civil Service Competency Framework outlines the set of competencies that are required. By increasing transparency, it reduces gender-biases in recruitment and promotion.

(2)    The Myanmar Civil Service Performance Management System and New Performance Evaluation Form make performance assessments transparent and merit-based ensuring women’s and men’s performance is fairly assessed against their contribution to achieve goals set by their organization.

(3)    The Senior and Executives Leadership Development Scheme is designed to support women and men equally participating at the highest levels of decision-making in Myanmar’s civil service.