Women of Myanmar

Aung San Suu Kyi. Undoubtedly the most famous woman of Myanmar. She is perceived a mother of all Burmese and thus called by many “ma”. For many decades pictures of Ma Suu were forbidden and if found, the owner could have been found guilty and sentenced to prison.

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My first time in Myanmar was in April 2012 just after the election results were released. National League for Democracy (NLD) with its leader – Aung San Suu Kyi – was an unquestionable winner. It was time when people started to show their identification with the party and its values more openly.

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The Burmese women are seen everywhere. They are active in the streets, on markets, selling, doing hard physical work, taking care of their children and socializing. This is nothing unique for this part of the world. In many countries it is a woman who is not only the neck, but as well the head of the family.

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They do a lot of handcraft and thus support very well-developed tourist industry.

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But very Burma-specific function of women is being a nun as well. The rules are different than those for men. A girl or a woman doesn’t have to go to a nunnery (boys are expected to do so at the age of 7 for the first time).

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In Buddhism women’s position is far worse than men’s. In the hierarchy there is first Buddha, then a man and only after him a woman. Women are underpriviledged as, among the others, they are not allowed to enter the closest area to Buddha in biggest pagodas, cannot press gold leaf on Buddha statues, cannot offer monks offerings direcetly – need to put it either to their bowls.

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