Briefing Paper for the CEDAW Committee on Women’s Rights Challenges in Myanmar
As a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Myanmar must fulfill its obligations to ensure both de jure and de facto equality for women. Yet, despite these obligations, women and girls across Myanmar face multiple obstacles to realizing their rights to substantive equality and non-discrimination. A deep history of patriarchy and negative gender stereotypes, decades of oppressive military dictatorship, and the continued power of the military have left an unfavorable legacy in the form of legal structures that discriminate against women, legal provisions that do not guarantee gender equality or adequately protect women, and inadequate resource allocation to promote policies and programmes to ensure women’s empowerment. These deeply-embedded shortcomings have meant that women in large part have not been the beneficiaries of the democratic reforms begun in 2011 and continue to be marginalized in politics and the peace process. With a new government in charge, there is a unique opportunity in Myanmar to undertake wide-ranging legal and institutional reform to ensure that women are able to enjoy rights as equal citizens. The Government must work in tandem with civil society to ensure progress, to promote women’s rights and fulfill its obligations under CEDAW.