The population of women in Myanmar is more than that of men in the country. Women enjoy rights equal to that of men. Women are independent and financially and emotionally capable of looking after their families. Women in Myanmar do not take the surname of their husband or father after marriage and have the right to decide on their own accord if they wish to do so. Health coverage is extended to the rural and far –reaching borders. There is no gender discrimination with regards to education and the literacy rate is 73%. With the changing economy in Myanmar, women are participating not only in Government sectors but also in private sectors. Legal system in Myanmar gives equal rights to both men and women in the working sectors. Historically, women in Myanmar have enjoyed the right to inheritance of oil wells and to inherit the position as village head.
However, over the years, a large part of women, despite enjoying independence and rights, have faced atrocities at the hands of military by becoming victims of unpaid labour, violence, slavery, murder, torture and attacks. The deteriorating economic climate before Aung San Suu Kyi’s coming into power, led to denial of access to the Burmese women of education, nutrition, medical services, vocational training and other development opportunities. The tribal women of the Karen village, in the nearby Thailand has also disrespectfully acclaimed them as tourist attractions because of the tradition of wearing coils of brass around their necks.
The Buddhist and the Hindu influences that came to Myanmar at a somewhat later date may have modified the social status of women, but women have always retained their legal and economic rights. Altogether, in their social life as well as in public life,Burmese women, occupy a privileged and independent position. It is a position for which they are trained — almost imperceptibly, and with love and security—from childhood. It is a position which is not limited either by marriage or by motherhood, and which allows them, eventually, to fit themselves into the life, the work, and all the rewards that the country has to offer equally with men.
In 2015, Myanmar’s gender status analysis got a go ahead from Myanmar’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement (MSWRR). The report consists an in-depth analysis of six critical areas of women’s lives – poverty reduction, livelihoods and full and equal participation in the economy; education; health; women’s and girls’ rights to freedom from all forms of violence; political processes and governance; and the peace process. The GSA supported by UN and the Asian Development Bank, is intended to be used as a baseline to monitor future state action as well as for providing policy advice in bringing them at par with the UNFPA and UN women manifestations on gender equality. The GSA is to provide gender equaling and strategically plan for the implementation of the National Strategic plan for the Advancement of Women. A shared vision for social justice and human rights.
In July, 2016, status of Myanmar’s record on women rights was to be reviewed in Geneva by the UN Committee working on elimination of discrimination against women. The review was crucial as it came immediately after the election of Aung San Suu Kyi. Following the review, the Committee will issue recommendations directly to the government which will set important benchmarks with respect to protecting women’s rights, ensuring equality, and eliminating discrimination against women. Highlighting gender gaps and establishing steps to eliminate them will make clear that Myanmar’s transition to democracy must not leave women behind. The Committee will specify and clarify mandates for improvement in multiple areas, a move that will enable that women in the now partly democratic Myanmar are not left behind. A truly democratic country is one where women enjoy their basic rights and that the principles of gender equality are fully respected and incorporated.