Hundreds of Burmese, Thai and other women from around the world marched through Chiang Mai on 8 March 2011, commemorating the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, reports Mizzima.
Carrying banners and chanting slogans, the women called for the recognition of past women leaders and a more equal space for women in today’s world.
The march was joined by various NGOs and charities dedicated to promoting women’s rights and gender equality. Burmese women’s groups called for peace in Burma, a recognition of women political leaders in Burma, including pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and a stop to violence against women in Burma.
One of the slogans chanted during the march was “A Parliament with no women is not a parliament”.
Tin Tin Nyo, the general secretary of the Women’s League of Burma, told Mizzima that the women who marched were using their freedom in Thailand to work for women inside Burma, who do not have a voice in civic affairs.
“We would like to show that we care about them, and that we are going to fight for their rights, not only our rights, because we can do these things, we can celebrate this day,” said one marcher. “There are so many Burmese women inside who can’t have this kind of celebration and who can’t even talk about their rights–so we would like to talk on their behalf.”
“We will continue until we get our gender equality, and then genuine democracy in Burma,” Tin Tin Nyo told Mizzima.
She said that it was important that Burmese women outside of Burma showed their solidarity on International Women’s Day for women inside Burma and called for empowerment of women in Burma, more women in leadership positions and the release of women political prisoners.
“I think that the role of women in politics is so important, and that the government, whoever comes into power, should never exclude women’s representation in political bodies,” said Tin Tin Nyo.
May Win Myint, a spokeswoman for the National League for Democracy central women’s working group, told Mizzima that more than 50 women political prisoners are being detained.
“We want the junta to release the political prisoners. We deeply sympathise with the families of political prisoners,” she said.
The march was joined by representatives of M Plus Thailand, a charity and campaign group that provides support for lesbians, gays and bisexual and transgender groups in Chiang Mai.
The M Plus campaign manager said, “We want to show that we are human too, and that we support all women everywhere.”
Sexual discrimination in Burma is imbedded in the 2008 Burmese Constitution, which states in Article 352:
The Union shall, upon specified qualifications being fulfilled, in appointing or assigning duties to civil service personnel, not discriminate for or against any citizen of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, based on race, birth, religion, and sex. However, nothing in this Section shall prevent appointment of men to the positions that are suitable for men only.