Nang Raw ZahkungMyanmar
Nang Raw Zahkung works toward ensuring that women have a voice and civil society participation in Myanmar’s peace.
Growing up as a member of the Kachin minority during Myanmar’s civil war, the world’s longest-running civil war, shaped Nang Raw’s desire for peace. As the daughter of the first woman physician in Kachin State, Zahkung grew up among a steady stream of refugee children who were all treated as members of the family. She recalls hearing bombs and blasts and knowing her mother would be on her way to the hospital.
Her early work led to a Fulbright Scholarship in international development, conflict resolution, and public administration which, combined with her personal experience, allowed her to bring practical and academic knowledge to her role as a member of the technical team involved in Myanmar’s peace negotiations.
In 2013 she agreed to assist the ethnic armed organizations negotiating for peace with the Myanmar government because “lasting peace requires a level field,” and she understood that her expertise and skills were vital.
Nang Raw is also an active member of Myanmar’s civil society. With the recent transformation of the country, civil society actors are gaining more space and are now able to conduct a wider range of activities. In the field of peacebuilding, the Shalom (Nyein) Foundation has been a pioneer for more than ten years. As a Shalom Foundation Assistant Director (Policy and Strategy), Nang Raw supports several peace processes around the country by bringing expertise to negotiations and creating platforms for dialogue. She also organizes public consultations in remote villages. She is currently involve to promote participation of Civil Society in 21st Century Panglong as one of the working committee.
Nang Raw has consistently advocated for a more meaningful role for women and civil society in Myanmar’s peace processes and peacebuilding. She authored a booklet and article for Swisspeace and the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue based on her experiences of Myanmar’s peace processes.
Nang Raw and her colleague, Ja Nan Lahtaw, Director of Shalom Foundation (N-Peace Award 2015), currently serve as advisors to the ethnic armed groups who, in April 2015, signed a historic draft ceasefire deal with the government of Myanmar.