Reality or rhetoric: The role of education in achieving gender equality in Myanmar

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Asha Clementi
Rebecca Crisp


Education, Gender equality, Myanmar


United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres recently declared gender equality to be ‘the unfinished business of our time’.1 Equality of opportunity, regardless of sex, seems a clear and accepted goal for policymakers. However, in most countries, progress remains slow. This report explores how, and why, some strategies for pursuing gender equality are failing to achieve progress.

For decades, education has been promoted as an invaluable tool for promoting gender equality.2 However, research into education in Myanmar challenges this assumption. Women outnumber men at every stage of education, yet remain economically repressed and politically underrepresented. Our research explores why traditional education reform is failing the women of Myanmar. Through policy analyses and interviews conducted in schools, communities, and political arenas, we investigate the disjunction between increased participation of women in education and improvements in post-education outcomes. By affirming existing gender inequality, the current education system is creating an unbroken cycle of discriminatory attitudes and outcomes.

We recommend integrated reform of Myanmar’s school curriculum, examination structure, teacher training, and resourcing. By redefining children’s experience in school, Myanmar’s government can transform education into a tool to empower, not repress, the women it shapes.

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