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Courage amid Crisis: Gendered impacts of the coup and the pursuit of gender equality in Myanmar

July 2nd, 2024  •  Author:   UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar  •  3 minute read
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The 1 February 2021 military coup precipitated an unprecedented human rights and humanitarian crisis in Myanmar. Armed conflict, displacement, economic collapse, hunger, and the junta’s gross human rights violations threaten the lives and well-being of people in every corner of the country. Women, girls, and LGBT people are severely and uniquely impacted by this crisis, yet these impacts are all too often obscured and ignored by the international community.

This conference room paper seeks to shed light on the gendered impacts of the coup and the Myanmar military junta’s gross human rights violations. It has been made possible by the guidance, testimony, and insights of those who are working courageously and tenaciously to address these challenges. They have made it clear that while women and LGBT people have suffered enormously, they are playing a critical role as human rights defenders and leaders in the resistance movement.

The threat of sexual and gender-based violence is a dark shadow that follows women, girls, and LGBT people throughout Myanmar. Junta forces have committed widespread rape and other forms of sexual violence, often characterized by the utmost cruelty and dehumanization. Members of resistance forces have also been responsible for abuses against women, girls, and LGBT people. Accountability for sexual and gender-based violence is extremely rare, and survivors struggle to access the support they need. Displacement, financial distress, and the lack of access to education and health care have caused many women and girls to adopt negative coping strategies, increasing their vulnerability to violence, human trafficking, early or forced marriage, and sexual exploitation. Rohingya women, girls, and LGBT people face heightened risks rooted in the systematic denial of citizenship and basic human rights.

The Special Rapporteur urges the international community to significantly increase support for women, girls, and LGBT people in Myanmar and work to ensure accountability for crimes committed against them. He calls on opposition leaders to more fully recognize A/HRC/56/CRP.8 1 July 2024 English only A/HRC/56/CRP.8 2 the significant untapped value that women and LGBT people offer the resistance movement, including by providing greater opportunities to serve in leadership positions.

Despite the devastating impact of the coup, women, girls, and LGBT are seizing the opportunity to build a peaceful and democratic future for their country and to dismantle the discriminatory and patriarchal hierarchies that have long kept them from fully enjoying their rights. They are leading protests, playing a central role in local humanitarian relief efforts, taking key positions within the revolutionary movement and helping to develop policies and institutions that will protect and promote the rights to equality and non-discrimination. They deserve nothing less than the full support of the international community.

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