Raising the Role of Women in the Myanmar Economy

Women in Myanmar have taken a more significant role in the economy, although much more can be done to narrow the gender gap.

Myanmar ranks 83 among 144 nations in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report 2017, which is higher than major Asian economies including China and South Korea as well as its neighbours in the region, namely Indonesia, Cambodia and Malaysia.

Furthermore, UNESCO has described Myanmar as one of the countries in Asia which has the highest ratio of female researchers in the field of science, with 70 out of 100 researchers being women.

During the 2010 Myanmar elections, female MPs constituted just 4 percent of the Parliament. But by the time the next election took place in 2015, the ratio of women had increased to 15pc.

“The role of women in social and economic sphere has become significant.” State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said in her speech at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2017 (ABIS) in the Philippines earlier this month.

Still, much yet remains to be done to close the gender gap between women and their male counterparts in Myanmar. Indeed, the country still ranks lower than the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Bangladesh in the World Economic Forum report.

“Social norms [categorising] women as unskilled labourers and housewives who cannot make decisions is one of the biggest challenges,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said in her speech to ASEAN and international leaders in the Philippines.

The State Counselor stressed the importance of bringing positive changes for women rights, increasing the admission of female students in elementary and middle schools, raising the number of female workers in the workforce, providing better maternal health care as well as promoting the role of women in decision making.

To raise the role of women in the economy, the government has drawn up a National Strategic Plan for the Advancement of Women (2013-2022) under which it aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women. Much of the strategies proposed in the plan though have remained thus far on paper.

In that connection, AustCham Myanmar held its second Women in Business and Leadership Development Conference on November 25. The conference included discussions on issues faced by local women entrepreneurs – from addressing opportunities and challenges in running one’s own business in Myanmar to hiring millennials and using gender-positive media and marketing communication.

Participants in the panel discussions included business owners such as Isabella Sway Tin of Rangoon Tea House and Wai Thit Lwin from Bella Cosmetics as well as prominent executives from the financial sector.

The women also discussed trend-setting ideas and practical know-how in operating businesses on Facebook, with speakers such as Win Mya Mya San from WaveMoney and Mya ThwayNwel from Shop.com.mm.

Our second annual AustCham Myanmar Women in Business and Leadership Development Conference serves the purpose of empowering women and stimulating new areas of growth,” CEO of AustCham Myanmar Jodi Weedon said.


Source: Myanmar Times

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