In Person

Social Welfare Minister: ‘I Will Always Campaign for Gender Equality’

By San Yamin Aung 8 March 2017

NAYPYIDAW — On the occasion of Women’s Week celebrations, the Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr. Win Myat Aye, who also chairs Myanmar National Committee for Women’s Affairs (MNCWA), talked with The Irrawaddy’s San Yamin Aung at the Women’s Week opening forum in Naypyidaw on Monday. He spoke about the government’s plans to support gender equality and women’s rights during its five-year term.

What do you feel is the role of Burmese women in the country’s politics and developments?

Women are over 50 percent of Burma’s population. For a household, a society and also for the country, we need their strengths and also we need more women’s participation in politics and businesses.

If we [the ministry], the government, the private sector and UN organizations are working together, I believe women will understand their rights more and thus, women’s participation will increase.

As you are also the chairman of Myanmar National Committee for Women’s Affairs (MNCWA), what will you do to prioritize supporting gender equality and the empowerment of women?

First of all, I took the role of chairman in the MNCWA. In the committee, we include women’s advocates, the Myanmar Women’s Affairs Federation, the Maternal and Child Welfare Association and women’s networks. We will work to improve the situation for women in the country by collaborating with all of those [groups]. And I would like to say we will try to finish the laws that can prevent violence against women and also urgently protect women’s rights.

How about the ministry’s National Strategic Plan for the Advancement of Women 2013-2022 (NASPAW)—so far, how has it been carried out?

The plan covered a lot. It is based on the 12 priority areas [livelihoods, poverty reduction, education and training, health, halting violence against women, emergencies, economy, decision making, institutional mechanisms, human rights, media, environment, and the child]. There are many areas in which the ministry is developing action [plans]. We will implement them all continuously with our best effort.

In the past, even holding a meeting once a year with the MNCWA was difficult. But we will now hold meetings frequently and also collaborate with organizations for implementation.

What will be achieved after implementing the NASPAW, which will end in 2022?

We will have more national plans…and after 2022, I believe we will see significant changes toward the improvement of the situation of women in our country and concerning women’s rights. As the State Counselor says, I believe women can work toward the development of the country by taking on responsibilities and carrying out their duties.

From this Women’s Week celebrations, how would you like to encourage men and women in working toward gender equality?

Though we are celebrating Women’s Week, men are also included in the events. My participation as a chairman of Myanmar National Committee for Women’s Affairs could encourage men to work together [with women] toward gender equality. I will always be campaigning for it.