Women’s Week Garners Gender Equality Pledges

By Htet Naing Zaw 13 March 2017

NAYPYIDAW — During Burma’s Women’s Week, 148 companies and organizations based in the country pledged to promote gender equality in the workplace.

Women’s Week was held from March 6-12 in Naypyidaw, and entities including the US Embassy, Kanbawza Bank, Coca Cola and UN Women signed seven pledges, organizers told The Irrawaddy.

“This is the first time that private companies have made specific pledges to women in the workforce,” said Daw Yu Wai Aung, the head of the corporate social responsibility department at Kanbawza Group.

She added that placing more women in higher-level positions would contribute to empowerment of women in the workplace.

Signatories pledged to establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality; treat women and men fairly at work; respect and support human rights and non-discrimination; ensure the health, safety and well-being of all workers; promote education, training and professional development for women; implement enterprise development, supply chain, and marketing practices that empower women; and measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality.

Daw Shwe Shwe Sein Latt, an Upper House lawmaker from Bago Division, pointed to gender inequality as a contributor to underdevelopment in the country.

“If women are given greater roles, it will benefit individuals, families and the country. Society should allow women to take leadership roles. I welcome these pledges,” said Daw Shwe Shwe Sein Latt, who is also a women’s rights activist.

The Women’s Week forum opened on March 6 in Naypyidaw, and was attended by members of the business community, international and local NGOs, and government personnel. Discussions were held on sustainable development goals, raising awareness of gender-based violence and promoting gender equality in the workplace.

Union minister for social welfare, relief and resettlement and chairman of the All Burma Women’s Affairs Committee Dr. Win Myat Aye told The Irrawaddy that the government was committed to endorsing laws for the protection, empowerment and leadership of women as well as restructuring the Myanmar Women’s Affairs Federation.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.