FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—July 1, 2016
[GENEVA] – On July 7th, Myanmar’s implementation of its obligations to ensure gender equality will be reviewed by the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee). Myanmar ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1997, but this will be the first international women’s rights review of the country since the elections that brought Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) to power.
“While there have been limited reforms in Myanmar since the transition to a quasi-civilian government in 2011, women have in large part not been the beneficiaries of these reforms and serious obstacles remain to achieving gender equality,” says May Sabe Phyu, Gender Equality Network’s (GEN) Director.
In Myanmar, women fight against a deep history of patriarchy, negative gender stereotypes and decades of an oppressive military dictatorship, face multiple forms of discrimination throughout the country, and remain marginalized in politics and the peace process.
“Provisions in Myanmar’s Constitution and laws explicitly and in effect discriminate against women and limit their opportunities. Violence against women remains a pervasive problem and the country lacks a comprehensive law to prevent and protect women,” says Akila Radhakrishnan, Global Justice Center’s (GJC) Legal Director, “and, despite Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s leadership, women remain woefully underrepresented at all levels of government and have been largely excluded from processes to bring an end to conflict.”
Together, GJC and GEN submitted a shadow report in advance of the CEDAW review detailing these and other concerns which prevent Myanmar from complying with its obligations under CEDAW. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD’s newly-formed government, which took office at the end of March 2016, have an opportunity to refocus attention on the achievement of equal rights for women in Myanmar. The upcoming review and Myanmar’s implementation of the Committee’s recommendations will be a test of this new Government’s commitment towards ensuring that democratic reforms meaningfully address the needs and rights of women and girls across the country.
“With the democratic election of a new government, there has never been a better time for Myanmar to undertake the wide-ranging reforms necessary to ensure equal rights for women,” concluded May Sabe Phyu.
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