Monday, September 25, 2017

Gender inequality continues to plague government under NLD

Even though Myanmar’s de facto leader is now a woman, gender equality in its government remains dire, a new report finds.

Women make up an increasing but still minor percentage of the parliamentary representatives. Photo: Si Thu Lwin / The Myanmar TimesWomen make up an increasing but still minor percentage of the parliamentary representatives. Photo: Si Thu Lwin / The Myanmar Times

Following the 2015 election, the number of female MPs increased significantly and is now higher than at any other time in Myanmar’s history.

“The 2015 election resulted in increased female representation in state and region parliaments, with women this time taking 12.7 percent of elected seats, compared to just 3.8 percent in the 2010 election,” said Paul Minoletti, author of the report for the Asia Foundation.

But he added that while male-to-female ratios are the simplest way to measure equality, the numbers belie the “(in)equality of participation”, the seriousness with which representatives’ views are taken and the influence decisionmakers have.

“Gender, of course, is not the only factor that affects individuals’ ability to participate or influence their needs and preferences,” the report said. “Other key factors are age, socioeconomic class, family background, ethnicity, religion, and geographical location.”

Mr Minoletti also pointed out that no gender-disaggregated data is available for MPs appointed by the military, rendering it impossible to say exactly what percentage of representives are women.

In the previous parliament, only two women were among the 25pc of military MPs appointed to both houses.

“If the gender balance of military appointees has remained the same, women will account for 10.5 percent of all MPs at the national level,” said the report.

This number is higher than for the Thai parliament, but Myanmar lags behind many other nations in the region, including the Philippines, Singapore, China, Bangladesh and Cambodia.

In the civil service, though women are well-represented – slightly better than men – few of them hold senior positions that include significant decision-making authority, according to the report.

“Female representation is very high within bodies such as the Ministry of Education and the Auditor General’s Office, but very low in bodies such as the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Forestry,” said Mr Minoletti.

Daw Nyo Nyo Thin, former Yangon Region MP, said women don’t get appointed to decision-making positions in the ministries and that less than 5pc of women have decision-making authority.

“The NLD government needs to increase female representation in our country,” she said.