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Despite solid evidence that women’s participation and contributions are central to development, and despite many international agreements affirming women’s rights, gender equality remains an unfulfilled promise in Myanmar.

Documentary film screening

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2019, and to promote gender equality in Myanmar, UNFPA presented a public screening of documentary films: Women’s Rights: What does it mean to you?

The debate with the film maker, Min Min Hein, and representatives from CSOs, the Government and the UN.

The films, which are produced by UNFPA, investigate the gender norms that influence the experiences and aspirations of women and men from different socio-economic, geographical and cultural backgrounds in Myanmar.

The films help us see that the roles that men and women play in society are not biologically determined. They are socially determined, and they change and evolve over time. They stimulate viewers to explore their own values and preconceptions about gender equality. 

Panel and audience debate

Yangonites with an interest in gender equality in Myanmar attended the screening, which was followed by a panel debate about the state of play of women’s rights in Myanmar. The audience also participated in the discussion, which was interpreted to allow both Myanmar and English speakers to engage.

The panel included the film’s maker Min Min Hein, and representatives from civil society, government, politics and the UN, including Dr. Kaythi Kyaw, Yangon Regional Director, Department of Social Welfare; Nang Phyu Phyu Lin, National Advisor, Alliance for Gender Inclusion in the Peace Process; Aye Lei Tun, Gender Program Manager, Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation; and Dr Kyaw Wai Aung, Humanitarian Programme Analyst, UNFPA.

“Gender equality will be achieved only when women and men enjoy the same opportunities, rights and obligations in all spheres of life. This means sharing equally in decision-making at all levels, and having equal opportunities for education, financial independence, and realizing their personal ambitions”, said Ramanathan Balakrishnan, UNFPA Representative for Myanmar, after the event.

“When women are empowered, whole families benefit, and these benefits often have a ripple effect on future generations”, he concluded.

Watch a clip from the documentary

The film screening and debate took place at Yangon’s Goethe Institut on 7 March, the eve of International Women’s Day. The event was a collaboration between UNFPA, the Goethe Institut and AFXB.