Committee on the Elimination
of Discrimination against Women
7 July 2016
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today considered the combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of Myanmar on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Maung Wai, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations Office at Geneva, introducing the report, said that regardless of the increase in women’s political representation in Parliament, from 4 per cent in 2012 to 13 per cent today, women were not free from challenges and their participation in decision-making was still unsatisfactory. Thus, legislative and policy measures were being introduced to address underlying causes that hampered women’s participation in political and public life. Myanmar had introduced a series of reforms in 2011 to transform the country into a democratic society, which had produced a widening of democratic space, and greater enjoyment of fundamental freedoms and rights, while the promotion and protection of human rights was very high on the agenda of the new administration. The new Government, democratically elected in November 2015, had taken office in March 2016, with the agenda of consolidating democracy, national reconciliation, peace and development.
Also introducing the report, San San Aye, Deputy Director General, Department of Social Welfare, Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, explained that the Myanmar National Committee for Women’s Affairs was the national mechanism for the advancement of women with the mandate of mainstreaming women’s rights in policy making and coordinating relevant ministries. The National Strategic Plan for the Advancement of Women 2013-2022 aimed to ensure that all women in Myanmar were empowered and able to fully enjoy their rights, by enabling systems, structures and practices for the advancement of women.
Committee Experts acknowledged Myanmar’s significant transformation since 2011 and the strengthening of the legal framework, and asked about the time frame for the revision and repeal of the 142 discriminatory laws, and the adoption of important new laws, in particular the Anti-Discrimination Bill and the Prevention of and Protection from Violence against Women Bill. The process of Constitutional reform was crucial and provided an opportunity for Myanmar to ensure that its supreme law did not contain any discriminatory provisions and that it contained a strong and substantive equality guarantee provision. Violence against women was prevalent in the society and took many forms, and was supported by prevailing cultural and gender stereotypes and harmful traditional practices. Experts inquired about concrete measures to put an end to impunity for human rights violations, and to ensure accountability, in particular for sexual violence and abuse committed by the army personnel in post-conflict areas.
Concerns were voiced about discrimination and violence against ethnic minorities, and about several pieces of legislation which could be used to limit the rights of ethnic minorities, including the Population Control Law, and the four Race and Religion Laws, which had been found to be in contravention of international norms and standards. The delegation was asked about limited access to justice for women, and in particular for minority women, and the adverse impact on women’s rights of customary and informal justice mechanisms, which were still widely used; about high maternal mortality rates which were also the result of unsafe and clandestine abortions; very low birth registration rates; and the application of the 1982 Citizenship Law, which should be amended to bring it in line with Article 9 of Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
In concluding remarks, Mr. Wai expressed warmest thanks and deepest appreciation to the Committee Experts for reviewing Myanmar’s efforts in implementing the Convention by raising important questions, and providing useful advice and expert opinions which would contribute to remedying the challenges in the country. As a developing country, Myanmar had limited resources and expertise in tackling human rights challenges, but was nevertheless committed to addressing them.
The delegation of Myanmar included representatives of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Committee for Women’s and Children’s Rights of the Constituency N° 10 of the Yangon Region, and the Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The country reviews can be watched via live webcast at http://www.treatybodywebcast.org.
The Committee will reconvene in public on Friday, 8 July, at 10 a.m. to consider the combined seventh and eighth reports of France (CEDAW/C/FRA/7-8).
The combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of Myanmar can be read here: CEDAW/C/MMR/4-5