STATEMENT on International Women’s Day 2021
Yangon, Myanmar - As the world marks International Women’s Day, women across Myanmar are once again demonstrating their leadership and agency following more than one month of political instability and violence in the country.
Across Myanmar, we see women, young and old leading the call for peace, justice and democracy. They do so with courage, braving bullets and beatings, death and detention, challenging patriarchy and social norms in the process.
While their role often goes unrecognized, women and women civil society organization have been central to Myanmar’s slow journey towards a more democratic, peaceful and prosperous society. For decades, women, across Myanmar have worked both in the shadows and in broad daylight, often at high risks to their safety and well-being, to advocate for peace, support the peace process and deliver essential services when and where there were no government services to be had.
Under this year’s theme of “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”, we honor the women of Myanmar, in their full diversity, and stand in solidarity with them and women’s civil society organisations, as they continue to exercise their leadership to influence the destiny of their country.
Throughout the past year, we have seen the women of Myanmar, rural and urban women, ethnic women, young and old women, LBTQI+ women, women of all creed and religion, in all sectors of society, rise to the occasion, and stand firm on the frontlines of the country’s efforts to prevent and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, at the risk of their own lives and despite the fact that the crisis was disproportionally impacting them.
We have seen women health workers leading the COVID-19 health prevention and response efforts. We have seen essential workers restocking supermarkets and operating wet markets so as to ensure food security for the entire population. We have seen women volunteer to manage community-based quarantine centres. We have seen women, often without recognition, assuming the extra charge of care work at home, to take care of children left behind by school closures or of sick family members while trying to maintain an economic activity to keep food on the table.
At this time of political crisis in the country, we reiterate the United Nations Secretary General call for Myanmar’s military and police to ensure the right of peaceful assembly is fully respected and demonstrators are not subjected to reprisals.
We also reiterate the United Nations Secretary General’s strong condemnation of the violent crackdown and the use of lethal force against peaceful demonstrators, as well as his call for Myanmar’s military and police to ensure the right of peaceful assembly is fully respected.
Over the past decade, the United Nations in Myanmar has stood with the women of Myanmar and worked hard to support their efforts and the work of women civil society organizations in ensuring a more gender-equal country. Across all fields and sectors, from health, to agriculture, to education, to governance, we have aimed to put women and girls at the center of our development and humanitarian work, to ensure that their needs are met, and to support their role and agency in the economic and political development of the country.
At this time of crisis, we urge all stakeholders, in Myanmar and abroad, to listen to the voices of the women of Myanmar and we echo the words of the United Nations Secretary-General reaffirming the unwavering support of the United Nations to the people of Myanmar in their pursuit of democracy, peace, human rights and the rule of law.