Activists Say Urban Insecurity Hampers Women’s Capacity

By Zue Zue 13 October 2016

RANGOON — Women’s rights activists have called on the government to consider the needs of women in its delivery of public services while also increasing its budget for women, and enacting and enforcing laws and policies to protect and promote their rights.

Action Aid Myanmar, in cooperation with local partner organizations, launched a “safe cities campaign” at its office in Rangoon on Tuesday, saying that women are experiencing urban insecurity, particularly in Rangoon.

Their definition of urban insecurity for women goes beyond physical violence or sexual harassment, but also considers their accessibility to health care, education, job opportunities and public utilities like electricity and transportation in urban areas.

Urban women’s insecurity not only affects their lives, but also impacts their families, said Daw May Sabai Phyu, director of the Gender Equality Network, at the launching ceremony.

“In some cases, women have to reject job opportunities that come to them just because they don’t want to go back home late at night. Expanding safe and secure services within their reach will solve this problem,” she said.

Rangoon Division Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein, who was also present on the occasion, said: “We need to make sure there is greater security for women in Rangoon.  We have to try to make Rangoon a safe town for women, and we would try to accumulate as much budget as possible for this. We will also consider women’s issues in budget management.”

Adriano Campolina, CEO of Action Aid International, said, “We need policy changes. Stronger policies and laws are needed, and security needs to be strengthened in places in which there is frequent [sexual] violence. We need police departments that will hold perpetrators accountable.”

The safe cities campaign is first of its kind in Burma.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko