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Isabella Lövin, an author, journalist and Green Party politician who has been serving as Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation since 2014, is now visiting Burma. During her trip, she will meet with senior government officials and visit IDP camps in Arakan State to assess the situation there.
Below is her message to the people of Burma:
The relationship between Sweden and Burma has a long history. Sweden’s first ambassador to Burma was appointed in 1955 and resident in New Delhi. Since the mid-1990’s, Sweden has provided support to Burma’s democracy movement. More recently, we have expanded our support to the people of Burma to include the improvement of health, engagement in the peace process, and the protection of human rights.
I am very pleased to visit Burma for the first time as Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation. Now that Burma has a new government based on a solid mandate from the people, I very much look forward to working with this government and with the people of Burma.
During my visit, I will meet with development partners in Burma and learn more about the challenges that the new government is facing. I believe there are many areas where Sweden and Burma can learn from each other, and Sweden is ready to listen to the priorities of Burma. We would also be happy to share our own experiences, for example in the area of public administration.
The current Swedish government is the world’s first feminist government, putting women’s rights and gender equality at the core of all policies, including development cooperation. This means that all areas of our support to Burma have a strong focus on gender equality and the fulfillment of human rights for women.
In particular, we are actively contributing to the international agenda for Women, Peace and Security. This is, I believe, highly relevant for Burma in the current peace process. Conclusions from international research and experiences from a range of other countries show that women’s participation helps ensure that peace agreements are actually concluded and that peace becomes sustainable. I therefore strongly believe that the peace process in Burma would benefit from the participation of women.
Other examples of our commitment to fulfill women’s rights are our support to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as maternal health in Burma. We are also supporting projects aimed at enhancing women’s political participation.
On the international arena, we want to work with the new government on the important global challenges that we collectively face. Sweden attaches great importance to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. I welcome a strong partnership with Burma in working towards these goals. With Agenda 2030, I truly believe we share a common agenda.
Finally, let me take this opportunity to warmly congratulate the people of Burma on the positive steps taken towards democracy in recent times. Sweden is ready to support Burma in its endeavour to achieve a resilient, inclusive, fair and prosperous society, where democracy flourishes and where everyone can have their voices heard.