27 February 2013, Shan State – New study of gender issues in Shan State concludes that inequality gap between women and men will not narrow unless women are provided with more leadership opportunities in community driven development. The study, organized by UNDP to analyse living status of women and men in Inle Lake area in Shan State, also calls for more training for women to help strengthen their leadership skills. According to Toily Kurbanov, UNDP Country Director in Myanmar, these are key issues to be taken into consideration for future sustainable development of the Inle Lake area, which is experiencing economic boom as one of the prime tourist destination in Myanmar.
In addition to women empowerment through leadership skills, the study concludes that providing accessible microcredit loans to women is another significant factor to improve lives of women. Access to loans gradually creates more leadership space for women and enables them to expand their social network.
In the absence of such support it is likely that unequal wages between women and men for the same work will persist, even though women play important roles in agricultural production and other activities crucial to sustainable livelihoods. According to the study, such income disparity is characteristic for all various ethnic groups in Inle Lake area.
The UNDP study also found that in recent years local administrative practices, education and health conditions in the Inle Lake area have improved. In addition, projects delivered through international development cooperation (micro-credit, improved water supply) may have further contributed to Involvement of women in public activities.
At the same time, women's positions at home and in public still needs further enhancement. “Findings of this study will help development organizations to consider responding gender issues simultaneously when their development projects are implemented in the Inle Lake area,” said Daw Sanda Thant, Gender Specialist in UNDP Myanmar.
The Gender Analysis at Inn-thar, Pa-O, Danu and Taung-Yoe villages was conducted in August-September in 2012 in 16 villages ethnic villages around the Inle Lake area.