Time to act, end shadow pandemic of violence against women

On the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women, which marks the beginning of the UN’s annual campaign, the 16 Days of Activism against Violence against Women, the WHO South-East Asia Region called on all health sector stakeholders in the region to take urgent actions across the region to strengthen efforts to protect women and girls from violence and to support their health needs amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Women make up more than half of the total population of Myanmar. If we can guarantee the rights of every woman and girl to live a free and safe life, we can say that we are protecting the majority of the country’s people from violence.
Myanmar ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and submitted national reports to the CEDAW committee. The committee sent back its report with 56 suggestions, which include enacting a law protecting women and girls from violence and abuse and reviewing laws which discriminate against women.
In 2020, the Prevention of Violence against Women (PoVAW) draft bill was submitted to the Hluttaw. The bill is different from other laws because it is a social legislation and it would be effective only when people practice in it.
When it comes to the bill, we should not neglect Myanmar’s traditional customs. We are responsible towards and have a duty to support and protect women and girls.
Besides, the law should be an effective legal protection which can guarantee justice and rights to live free and safe lives to women and girls.
Violence towards women and girls is being labeled as a global pandemic. Additionally, the emergence and spread of COVID-19 has made women and girls especially vulnerable to increased violence and abuse.
WHO commends Member States for introducing new or up-scaled gender-sensitive measures during the response to COVID-19.
Our efforts must also be scaled up to protect women and girls including health workers, around 70% of whom are women, not only from infection and stress, but also from stigma and violence.
Let us remind all people what the State Counsellor said at the International Women’s Day celebration last year, “The more women get their rights, the higher the standard of human rights of a country.”
We need to protect and end all forms of discrimination against women and girls, to ensure raising the standards of human rights in our country.

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