To all Myanmar women, the Myanmar Women’ s Day that falls on July 3, every year is an auspicious day, a milestone day in our lives, a day to take pride in.
Following the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) resulting from the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, in September 1995, the first ever “Myanmar National Committee for women’s Affairs” (MNCWA) was formed on July 3, 1996 for ensuring security and development of women. However, the Committee’s limitations eventually led to the formation of “Myanmar Women’s Affairs Federation” (MWAF) on December 20, 2003 to undertake various issues for the entire Myanmar Women Mass, to promote women’s sector in the country, and to stand as a body representing for all Myanmar Women from all walks of life. It was actually an upgrading of the previous committee since the new set up made it easier, more practical to effectively carry out all the related issues on a wider scale and with extended perspectives. July 3 on which the idea of a social organization that could represent as a national force for the betterment of women in Myanmar was initiated, was later designated as Myanmar women’s Day for all Myanmar Women.
While paying due respect and recognition to the International Women’s Day, March 8 of every year, all Myanmar women should attach great significance to Myanmar Women’s Day of July 3, since it was the day of the laying down of the foundation of the establishment of an entity for women’ s empowerment and advancement in our beloved country.
MWAF, at present, with its (16) working groups spreading over Education, Health, Culture, Economy, Environment, Media, Girl-child, Reintegration, Mobilization and Disciplinary concerns, Admin and finance, Nationalities Affairs, International Relations and legal affairs, has been trying its utmost to successfully implement its grand and noble objectives for the entire women mass.
In collaboration with other International Women organizations and other civil societies, MWAF tailor its programmes to meet the needs of Myanmar women so as to keep with the international trends and at the same time to safeguard the national interest at all times.
The 2016 theme for International Women’s Day: “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality” has the underlying Agenda on a gender equal planet to be achieved by 2030, by the joint effort of the UNs, governments, civil societies and private sector, with equal focus on the new Step It Up’ initiative as well as other existing commitments on gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s human rights.
UN Secretary General also said in his message on that day:
“ We have shattered so many glass ceilings we created a carpet of shards. Now we are sweeping away the assumptions and bias of the past so women can advance across new frontiers.”
There is not a single doubt that MWAF will ensure the improvement of all Myanmar Women, without any exception, especially those at the grass root level to assist in various areas for their protection, for their rights and for their employment.
However as regards the push for parity or gender equality there seems to be not much to do as Myanmar Women are lucky in a way to be able to enjoy equal rights as men and accordingly been keeping abreast with men in the effort for progress of families, community and the state, as well.
Dr. Sein Tu (Myanmar Times, June 4-10, 2007) has written that “… the status enjoyed by Myanmar women goes way back over 2000 years …15 Actually there’s no need to go back 2000 years;
To demonstrate that we, Myanmar Women, are equal to men, just a look around the community will be enough. We have a unique social status in our society, quite different from the “familiar picture of the down-trodden and backward Asian Women.” But within the family, it’s part of our culture to give precedence to men in our homes, as displayed in one stanza of a poem: …
“Along with our men, together we march
With mutualrespect and trust Yet common to find the reverse of “ladies first”
Not becos of status but becos of affection and love.”
Global official data revealed that every year between 1.5 and 3 million women and girls lose their lives as a result of gender based violence and neglect. Most Myanmar women, without understanding the plights these women and girls are in, just take it for granted, born in Myanmar and growing up in a relatively safer environment. We hear of selective abortion, infanticide, genital mutilation, honor killing, dowry deaths etc. on global media only. All along we have never experienced gender favoritism and preference.
I have come across writings about the impressions of those people visiting Myanmar for the first time: two things that impress them about Myanmar women — a tradition of hard work and independence.
We enjoy some degree of freedom and quality in public life.
For that we love Myanmar and we are proud to be Myanmar Women.
At the same time, we should all be grateful and take pride in MWAF, giving proper recognition to its significant founding day —
Let’s all hail the auspicious Myanmar Women’s Day!