Women’s rights as workers under CEDAW in Myanmar
The Women’s Rights as Workers under CEDAW report analyses Myanmar’s adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women in relation to women’s workplace rights and economic empowerment more broadly in Myanmar.
The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is the primary international legal instrument that focuses on women’s rights. State parties – which include all Southeast Asian countries – must submit periodic reports on their progress to the CEDAW Committee, which is a panel of independent experts. The Committee evaluates states’ progress in implementing the treaty on the basis of those reports, as well as ‘shadow reports’ provided by NGOs.
CEDAW covers a broad range of concerns from the elimination of discrimination in political life, to equal access to education and healthcare. Gender equality in the workplace is primarily addressed through Article 11, which prohibits discrimination in employment, deals most directly with women and employment. However, several other parts of the Convention also establish rights that are related to women and work generally. Most important among these are:
- Article 3, which is concerned with the advancement of women in political, social, economic and cultural fields;
- Article 13, which requires states to ensure non-discrimination in family benefits and loans; and
- Article 14, which requires states to take into account the particular problems faced by rural women, including their participation in the non-monetised sectors of the economy.
Myanmar ratified The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1997, and has submitted three periodic reports to the CEDAW Committee setting out its progress implementing the treaty.
The report finds that the Myanmar government has been reasonably consistent over time, addressing the issue of workplace rights and conditions in detail throughout its CEDAW reports. In recent years reports have also emphasised concerns relating to migrant workers. However, where the Myanmar government reports make reference to concerns regarding women and employment, this is mostly in the context of supplementing family income.
The most obvious pattern in the Myanmar responses to CEDAW articles is its focus on the importance of female entrepreneurship. The Myanmar government has emphasised the role of the Myanmar Women Entrepreneurs Association in helping women access credit, as well as the importance of providing small-scale credit to women entrepreneurs. However, the Myanmar government has not raised the issue of ‘economic empowerment’ in any of its reports, whereas other countries have often emphasised this issue in conjunction with female entrepreneurship.
- Women as workers in The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women
- Women and work in the Myanmar reports
- Themes in Myanmar’s reports to The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women