“We did not get the opportunity to really air our concerns… And even when we did, we were only given five minutes to talk about gender issues.”

The Myanmar Digital Rights Forum took place in Yangon on 14-15 December. The event was the first of its kind in a country that until recently for decades was more or less closed off from the rest of the world.

Sweden, together with Finland and UNFPA, recently launched a 3-year US$11.8 million joint initiative to protect the rights of women and girls in Myanmar with focus on the most vulnerable women and girls in the remote and conflict-affected areas of Rakhine, Kachin and northern Shan states.

With the arrival of the monsoon, temperatures thankfully have dropped considerably. Outdoor activities are now more or less out of the question, but to peacefully watch the downpour from my balcony is quite spectacular. Sadly though, the formerly clear, blue Yangon sky has now turned grey. But it is certainly not the only thing here being grey.

Over the past few years there have been changes. Openness, freedom of expression and media as well as release of political prisoners in Myanmar. However, several issues during the past year have made many question the reforms. Are they genuine and long term? Will they be sustained?