Burma’s Gender Issues to Take Center Stage in Geneva

By San Yamin Aung 10 June 2016

RANGOON — Burma’s new government will present a report on the country’s implementation of gender equality and women’s rights to the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on July 6, when the committee will also hear shadow reports from women’s rights advocates.

Burma ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1997, making the country legally bound to put its provisions into practice and to submit national reports at least every four years.

Burma’s government submitted its first periodic report in 1999, followed by its second and third periodic reports in 2007 and a combined report of the fourth and fifth periods in January 2015, according to UN Women.

Khin May Kyi from UN Women said the CEDAW committee will hear the Burmese government’s report for fourth and fifth period, covering 2008-2015 at its coming session to be held in Geneva, Switzerland in July. They will also hear comments from NGOs and give recommendations on how to improve gender equality.

The government established the National Strategic Plan for the Advancement of Women for 2013-2022 but, according to UN Women, it has not yet been effectively implemented.

“At the session, we will talk about which laws need to be amended or drafted to best protect women’s rights and stop discrimination,” Khin May Kyi said. “And the respective ministries are expected to implement those policy recommendations.”

The government has been working hard on the advancement of women and to end to discrimination and violence against them, Win Myat Aye, minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, said at the opening of the session of the CEDAW Mock Review in Naypyidaw on Thursday.

“We need to use this opportunity to gather as much data as possible to showcase our good work and also work together to address whatever constraints we have faced in achieving gender equality,” the minister said.

The Women’s Organizations Network (WON), Gender Equality Network, CEDAW Action Myanmar, the Women’s League of Burma and the Women Peace Network – Arakan also submitted their shadow reports to the CEDAW committee, which will be heard in the session.

An official from WON told The Irrawaddy they have been researching and preparing their shadow report for two years.

“In the report, we are not criticizing the government, but instead we are giving comments on issues that still need to be addressed,” said the WON official, declining to be named before the report has been reviewed.

This will be the first time that local women’s organizations inside the country will have submitted shadow reports alongside the government’s report on implementation of CEDAW, even though some organizations had prepared them in the past.