(1) The government of Myanmar has committed to a National Strategic Plan for the Advancement of Women (NSPAW) 2013-2022. Myanmar is also a member of the ASEAN committee on women and a committee on the Protection of the Rights of Women and Children. The 2008 Myanmar constitution prohibits discrimination in many forms including gender. Despite these pledges, gender divides can be seen across all sectors. Bridging inequalities must be an urgent priority moving forward.
(2) The Global Gender Inequality Index ranks Myanmar 85 out of 155 countries. The index measures against reproductive health, empowerment and economic activity.
(3) Infant mortality is 62 per 1000 live births. This is high for the region e.g. Malaysia: 6.2, and Singapore: 2.2 infant deaths per 1000 live births.
(4) Life expectancy at birth for women (Union average) is 9.16 years longer than for men. Men have a life expectancy of 60 years, women, 69.
Globally life expectancy for women is 73.6 and men, 69.4. Both the infant mortality figures and life expectancy overall suggest that poor health provision is impacting on both men and women.
Improving health provision is necessary for both sexes. In particular, it should seek to address the poor care of infants and children and men as they age. Figure 1 illustrates the significantly higher number of women who live till 65 and over compared to men.
(5) The Union level sex ratio is 93 males to 100 females. Despite this sex ratio women are underrepresented in the political sphere and the labour market.
(6) Given government’s commitment to gender equality, increasing the political decision making power of women at all levels is critical.
(7) The low level of female economic participation (51% compared to 85% of men) will impact on the country’s growth. In the economically productive age group 15-64, 52% are women and 48% are men. Women must be actively encouraged to participate in the labour market.
Potential barriers to their access need to be identified and removed.
(8) At Union level the proportion of women aged 15 and over who were married was 57.8% lower than that for men at 61.4%.