我对将为缅甸带来改变的两件事情有着极大的兴趣：全纳教育(Myanmar – inclusive education)和女性赋权(Empowerment of women)。我并不是自称为这两个问题的研究专家，而只是一个花费了29年从一手资料来研究这两个问题的终身学习者。
The Empowerment of Women in Myanmar
There are two things that I am fiercely passionate about bringing change in my country, Myanmar – inclusive education and empowerment of women. I’m not claiming to be an expert in any of these issues; I’m only a life-long learner who took 29 years of learning this first-hand.
I left home at 20 to travel to different continents, lived and worked in 2 countries and I relocated back to Myanmar a couple of years back. Not much has changed in the country – apart from major infrastructure developments: gender inequality and discrimination continue to be a growing issue. Contrary to much negativity that surround feminism, this fight for advocating change for gender equality and empowerment of women in Myanmar (or feminism) is not synonymous with man-hating.
Gender biases in education
This is especially in rural parts of Myanmar, parents support sons over daughters to complete high school and to continue for higher education. That also holds true for some living in cities. In education, female students are required to get higher marks in the matriculation exam than male students to enter top universities.
For example, I once read that male students are required to have 459 marks to get into the University of Medicine, whereas female students are required to have 498 marks.
Domestic violence in a culture of silence
I read an article once where the author warned women to be careful especially at deserted bus stops. He witnessed a women being beaten up, with a few men witnessing the event who assumed that man was her husband. It turned out he was a robber who pretended to be her husband, and the women was unable to speak out being beaten too hard. The take away was the fact that both Myanmar men and women think domestic abuse is a normality often accepted in the society.
From what I’ve seen happening in many homes, nobody calls the police if they see a woman beaten up by a man. For those who do speak out, laws are redundant in the absence of social responsibility towards gender issues. This goes for domestic violence against both men and women actually. With the acceptance of domestic violence, by men and meekly by women who have no alternatives, gender equality is a far cry from reality in Myanmar.
Coming from women authors and some influential women in the society, women in Myanmar are somewhat self-discriminatory. They believe in certain unwritten cultural norms – laundry and cooking are women’s thing, women are instruments of reproduction, husbands are greater than wife in terms of ‘power and glory’, and the role of a woman is within her family and that role in the society can’t change.
For instance, a popular woman with 7,000 followers on Facebook once posted a piece, “Ideal qualities required of a respectable Myanmar woman”, whose viewpoints are shared by a growing number of Myanmar women supporters:
“No matter how educated you are, it means nothing if you can’t cook.”
“No matter how much money you make, it means nothing if you can’t sweep the floor proper.”
“No matter how good is your business acumen, it means nothing if you can’t even iron or do laundry.”
“No matter how good your organisation/management skills are at work, it means nothing, if you can’t manage your own household chores.”
It may seem like a bias, isolated viewpoint from one woman, but I have come across many women who share these unwritten rules in work, life and family.
As a Myanmar woman, I do believe this is not only a women’s issue, it is a human issue. What we teach our young daughters and sons at home is going to impact what’s to come in the next decades and generations.
Translated by Dino of 缅甸观察网 on March 17, 2016 from Sandy Aung’s article The Empowerment of Women in Myanmar