Gender and Women’s Rights

Gender and Women’s Rights

Traditional ethnic communities in Burma are male-dominated and from an early age, boys are socialized into gender roles designed to keep men in power and in control. Inequalities between men and women in Burmese society encompass a wide range of human rights violations, including sexual abuse of children, rape, domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, and trafficking of women and girls. Equality Myanmar promotes gender equality among people from Burma, raising gender awareness with both men and women, as due to the social context on which gender roles are dependent; women cannot achieve equality and stop domestic violence without the cooperation of men. There is an additional focus on empowering women and sexual minorities to engage in social transformation so that they can promote and enjoy gender equality and human rights. Equality Myanmar has been broadly facilitating trainings on gender, women’s human rights and empowerment and leadership using participatory education methodology with refugee and migrant communities, and pro-democracy organizations based on the Burmese borders with Thailand, China, India and Bangladesh, as well as some communities inside Burma. As a campaign to reduce domestic violence against women and sexual harassment, Equality Myanmar publishes posters and facilitates community involvement in theater performances.

Men Talk Project

In order to address domestic violence and gender inequalities Equality Myanmar recognized the need to raise awareness in the male population and initiated Men Talk, a forum conducted once per month in which men in migrant worker communities in southern Thailand discuss gender issues. Equality Myanmar operates in accordance with the idea that when men speak in a group with only other men, they feel more comfortable. Therefore, Equality Myanmar trains male facilitators to facilitate men’s discussions, to initiate conversations about attitudes and behaviors within the workplace, and to follow up these trainings with subsequent personal level/self-awareness discussions. The sessions utilize several methodologies, including showing videos, role play, telling stories, and using case studies to share information. Equality Myanmar successfully changed the attitude of many attendees who went on to allow their wives to participate in future trainings, discussions and community events, where participation may have previously been seen by the men as the women attempting to take power. The men also began to participate in community campaigns and social events in cooperation with women’s groups, and in activities that allowed them to acquire more information on gender and violence against women.