Throughout its history, Myanmar’s political life has seen a very low rate of women’s participation in the realms of politics, the economy, and peace-building. This can largely be attributed to a pervasive cultural attitude that sees women as only being suited to roles in the domestic sphere. This misleading gendered perception is reinforced by traditional beliefs, customs, and social stereotypes suggesting that women do not possess competencies relevant to participating in the military and politics. In addition to this—or perhaps because of it—structural barriers cemented into political and governance frameworks further hinder women’s participation in public life.
Gendered norms and stereotypes have long prioritised a male dominated public sphere, reinforcing a patriarchal culture in which women are seen as a weak and vulnerable group requiring special protection, while men are seen as being endowed with natural leadership skills and competencies suited for decision-making positions. Hence, men are consistently given space in key domains such as politics and the economy, whilst women are almost always excluded from these spheres.