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The United Nations is committed to working with the Government of Myanmar to ensure that rights and opportunities of women and girls are protected amidst the evolving outbreak of COVID-19 in Myanmar.

The COVID-19 pandemic affects everyone, everywhere. But it affects different groups of people differently, deepening existing inequalities. As recently highlighted by the United Nations Secretary-General, the COVID-19 crisis is having a devastating social and economic consequences for women and girls in particular.

Nearly 60 per cent of women globally work in the informal economy, earning less, saving less, and at greater risk of falling into poverty. As markets fall and businesses close, millions of women’s jobs have disappeared. In Myanmar, women represent 60 per cent of the employee engaged in the food and accommodation services, and between 70 to 90 per cent of the street food vendors, while an estimated 789,000 Myanmar women are working overseas for domestic or care work. Close to 35 per cent of the recorded migrant workers who have returned in recent weeks are women. And women constitute the vast majority of Myanmar garment workers, many of whom have already been affected by factory closures.

Women and girls are also at greater risk of experiencing gender-based violence when movement is restricted, livelihoods disrupted and protection systems weaken. This can adversely impact the availability of and accessibility to life-saving sexual and reproductive health services as well as gender-based violence prevention, mitigation and response services, at times when women and girls need these services most. The United Nations and its partners have been working to minimize these risks, through a variety of efforts, and in close coordination with the Government of Myanmar at all levels.

In the first days of social isolation measures in the country, UNFPA and UN Women combined forces to provide training to over 80 social workers of the Department of Social Welfare on the gender dimension of COVID-19 and on psycho-social counselling. Through this effort, 60 new cell phones have been provided to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, to ensure that it could ramp up its services and support to people in need across the country.

The United Nations agencies, funds and programmes are focusing on ensuring that women and girls are central to the support to the government response. This involves working with women civil society organizations who are at the frontlines. It also ensures that women impacted in the informal and formal economy, as well as women migrant returnees receive the support they require.

In Myanmar, women represent 75 per cent of the healthcare workers and first responders. While maintaining its support to the Government and the people of Myanmar on development, humanitarian, recovery and peacebuilding efforts, the United Nations also strives to ensure that female frontline health workers, including midwives, traditional birth attendants and nurses across the country have access to critical services, knowledge and protection, without compromising their own health.

At this challenging time, the United Nations pays tribute to the mothers, sisters, healthcare workers, mid-wives and nurses and all women and girls in Myanmar for the important role they play in their communities, reinforcing its commitment to put women and girls at the center of its efforts. The United Nations echoes the words of the Secretary-General that “gender equality and women’s rights are essential to getting through this pandemic together, to recovering faster, and to building a better future for everyone.”


Ref: Statement link on the United Nations Myanmar website