Ii is generally believed that the term ‘culture’ has revolved a long way in its use. In the 20th century, ‘culture’ is said to have emerged as a central concept, encompassing the range of human phenomena that cannot be attributed to genetic inheritance. Exactly fitting in with this idea, the American Heritage Dictionary defines “culture” as the totality of socially transmitted behaviour patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions and all other products of human work and thought characteristic of a community or population.
Over the world, different peoples have different cultures. Even within Myanmar, we can see different culture and traditions among the different ethnic groups.
All throughout the world, Myanmar is famous for her fine cultures and traditions. And Myanmar women, as globally accepted, have a unique social status in our society. It is said that for centuries, we have owned “a high measure of independence” and that we have retained our legal and economic rights all along.
The general impression formed by people who came and visited Myanmar for the first time, according to the Women of Burma by Daw Mya Sein in the Atlantic Magazine (Feb, 1958 issue) was that of Myanmar women with a tradition of hard work and independence.
Today, we are living in a technological age whereby all people, young and old, are consistently bombarded with new ideas, concepts, and all kinds of issues through a variety of media and connected devices. Globalization has made our world flat, paving the way for cultural diffusion. Not only in Myanmar, the whole world has experienced it.
As a result, we see unprecedented changes all around. Several areas of concern seem to be in the dress-mode, fashions and the life-styles of the young people. More girls in jeans and skirts might look quite okay so long as they don’t dress themselves up in provocative clothes, but the typical ‘living together’ lifestyle among young couples might not be acceptable to many Myanmar families.
We, adults, need to join in the concerted efforts to convey a message to these young people to treasure our beautiful, fine and worldly-appreciated traditional values and to behave themselves accordingly towards the sustainment of our cultural heritage and customs.
I think we should all be thankful for the unique social status of Myanmar women and the relatively safer environment here compared to some harmful areas across the world. While we take it for granted and somewhat enjoying our freedom and gender equality to some degrees, women and girls globally have suffered from multiples of gender-based violence. We have been hearing heartrending examples of mistreatment of women across diverse cultures and societies. Selective abortion and infanticide, honour killings and dowry deaths, genital mutilation and sex trade, mass rape in war zones, domestic violence and many other horrific crimes are taking place. Taken together, around the globe, one UN report states, one in three women has a horrifying experience of gender-based violence in her lifetime.
Many girls have been denied their right to education in the world. Educated women of Myanmar should try to help those less-fortunate women particularly from the rural areas and take part in nation building, making contributions in any ways and means they can. Assisting in awareness raising programs is just an example.
Despite the global waves of feminism, and the efforts of UN and other international organizations, private sector and governments, the struggles to gain as equal human beings has been progressing very slowly and gender equality on a global scale still seems far away. Various UN’s campaigns like “UNiTE to End Violence against Women”, “HeForShe” campaign, and Malala’s “Dear Sister Initiative” are some efforts for gender equality and women’s empowerment that have been launched throughout the years.
In Myanmar, MWAF (Myanmar Women’s Affairs Federation), has been giving out all the necessary help and assistance in various areas for Myanmar women’s protection, for their rights and for their empowerment. With its notable objectives and credit-worthy activities MWAF has posed as a source of aspiration and strength for all Myanmar women. We should take pride in MWAF and give proper recognition to its significant founding day.
To all Myanmar women across the nation, let’s all hail the auspicious Myanmar Women’s Day!