#MeToo Going Full Steam in Myanmar, African-American Women To Hold The Fort During Elections, and More

#MeToo Going Full Steam in Myanmar Feminist News Openletr.png

#MeToo Going Full Steam in Myanmar

The #MeToo movement, still expanding, has reached Myanmar. A recent documentary, “Metoo Myanmar,” produced by Myanmar Journalism Institute for Mizzima TV, is getting attention in the West as of late. This documentary, filmed along the China-Myanmar border, shows among other crimes of sexual violence, Myanmar women telling their stories of getting sold to Chinese businessmen. Human Rights Watch has been chronicling this hellscape: “The 112-page report ’Give Us a Baby and We’ll Let You Go’: Trafficking of Kachin ‘Brides’ from Myanmar to China, documents the selling by traffickers of women and girls from Kachin and northern Shan States into sexual slavery in China. Trafficking survivors said that trusted people, including family members, promised them jobs in China, but instead sold them for the equivalent of US$3,000 to $13,000 to Chinese families. In China, they were typically locked in a room and raped so they would become pregnant.” This is assumably a legacy of China’s “One Child Policy” and the nightmarish human rights situation in Myanmar.


Another film from the same region documents women’s voices on the subjects of gender norms and inequality. “The films explore gender inequality as the root cause of violence against women and girls, and they carry the voices of women and men who are both ordinary and extraordinary at the same time,” according to the United Nations Populations Fund via GlobalVoices.


UN: Humanity’s To-Do List

At the UN Headquarters, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told during a meeting identifying best practices in breaking barriers to women’s advancement, “‘from boardrooms to parliament, from military ranks to peace tables and, of course, in the United Nations itself, more women decision-makers mean more inclusive solutions that will benefit everyone.’ Because women understand ‘intrinsically’ the importance of dignity, equality and opportunity for all, the deputy UN chief upheld that ‘women’s leadership and greater gender balance will lead to unlocking trillions for economies, enhanced bottom lines for the private sector and stronger, more sustainable peace agreements.’”

According to the United Nations 2019 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Index rankings, Yemen scored lowest with 10.4 per cent.

The Report of the Secretary-General is called, tongue-in-cheek, “Humanity’s To-Do List.” Four years ago, the UN implemented 17 Sustainable Development Goals, an idealistic blueprint for human progress. "For the third consecutive year, senior ministers from U.N. member states will voluntarily detail their progress, or lack thereof, in meeting a select subset of the 17 goals,” notes Stewart. M. Patrick of World Politics Review. “The first such gathering, in 2017, focused on global efforts to end poverty in all its forms (SDG No. 1); end hunger and achieve food security for all (No. 2); ensure healthy lives and life-long well-being (No. 3); achieve gender equality for all women and girls (No. 5); build resilient infrastructure, promote industrialization and foster innovation (No. 9); and conserve and sustainably use the oceans (No. 14).”

How are we doing particularly on Goal No. 5, achieving gender equality for all women and girls? Mixed, to be sure. The 17 goals, though infinitely worthy, are virtually unattainable. But some good news:

  • Child marriage has begun to decline around the world, particularly in Southeast Asia, where the risk of marrying in childhood decreased by roughly one quarter between 2013 and 2018. In sub-Saharan Africa, levels of child marriage have declined at a more modest rate.

  • Genital mutilation has declined by one quarter between approximately 2000 and 2018 according to data from 30 nations where the harmful practice is the highest.

  • As of January 1st 2019, women’s representation in national Parliaments averaged 24.2 per cent, an increase from 19 per cent in 2010.

  • While women hold 39 per cent of world employment, only 27 per cent of managerial positions were filled by women in 2018 an increase from 26 per cent in 2015.

On a different note:

  • According to data of roughly 90 countries women spend three times more time on care and unpaid work than their counterparts reinforcing gender-based socioeconomic disadvantages.

  • 18 per cent of ever-partnered women and girls between 15 to 49 years old have been subjected to physical and/or sexual partner violence in the previous 12 months. The prevalence is higher at 24 per cent in least developed countries.

Read the full report here or a shorter recap here.

Trump Series of Faux Pas

President Trump has never been known as a feminist or third-worldist as the 2018 midterm elections made it perfectly clear. On brand, he spent the last week denigrating “The Squad,” four freshman women and members of Congress, calling them “racist group of troublemakers.” According to Trump, The Squad, composed of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), who are all US citizens, three of the four born in the United States and Omar a Somali-born US refugee, are a “group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart. They are pulling the once great Democrat Party far left, and were against humanitarian aid at the Border... And are now against ICE and Homeland Security. So bad for our Country!”

In a series of response from the Squad to Trump’s uncivilized comments and last week’s “send her back” chant at a republican gathering directed to Ilhan Omar, AOC defended her colleague at a press conference: “It has taken us 240 years to have this unique composite in the Congress, in this moment, and we will not go back.” It seems evident that the Squad refuses to engage in the outburst of emotional diarrhea known to be Trump’s way of dealing with challenges. Another high point from freshman and Rep. Ilhan Omar was her composed response to President Trump via Twitter: “You may shoot me with your words / You may cut me with your eyes / You may kill me with your hatefulness / But still, like air, I’ll rise.”

Also, Trump’s hollow response to the harrowing tale of Nobel Prize winner Nadia Murad was of particular bad taste.


One State To Go To Ratify ERA

Thirteen states are still holding out against passing the Equal Rights Amendment. They are, not surprisingly, Arizona, Georgia, Oklahoma, North and South Carolina, Utah, Missouri, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, and Virginia.

Out of the thirty-eight states necessary for ratification of the Amendment, thirty seven have passed it. So only one single state out of the thirteen is stopping the efforts to turn this into law. Satirist John Oliver, formerly of the Daily Show and as of late of HBO, took on the issue squarely. “‘It’s one of those things that’s so obvious you assume we already have it,’ Oliver said on Last Week Tonight in a fifteen minute long deep dive on sexual discrimination. “It’s like when you see baking soda at the store. You think, ‘I don’t need to buy baking soda. I definitely already have baking soda. It’s a staple.’ And then you get home, and you’re baking a cake, and you reach in the cupboard for baking soda and you realize, Fuck! Women still aren’t guaranteed equal rights under the Constitution.”

Oliver is angling for Virginia—a blue state—to be the one that ratifies the revolution. It seems, strategically, the most likely. The episode already has over four million views on YouTube.


African American Women Holding the Fort

If change is to come with regards to how women are treated in our society, it may come through the ballot box via African-American women, who are at the vanguard of change and are highly motivated voters. Some of the data coming from the last few electoral cycles—particularly of the voting patterns of African-American women—are just astounding. “The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 55% of eligible black women voters cast ballots in November 2018, a full six percentage points above the national turnout," writes Melanie Eversley for Fortune.

Further, it all stems from voter turnout and discipline. "In fact, in 2012, black women had the highest turnout of all voting groups, according to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey Voting and Registration Supplement,” Eversley continues. “Just over 70% of eligible black women voters cast ballots in 2012, compared to 65.6% of white women, 62.6% of white men, 61.5% of black men and 59.2% of women of color overall, along with several other demographic groups that generated even lower numbers."

It must also be noted that in 2016 Doug Jones—a Democrat—won a very close election against Roy Moore, a Republican in the red state of Alabama. A mind-blowing 98% of African-American women voted in that election for the Democratic Party, helping Jones achieve his margin of victory.

US Women’s Team Receiving Support from Corporations

As the pay gap issue continues to resonate, will corporate sponsors make up for the wage gap between the U.S. men’s and women’s soccer teams? Procter & Gamble, one of the official sponsors of the World Cup’s women's soccer team, spoke loudly in a full-page New York Times ad that they are fully on the side of the women’s soccer team in their ongoing equal pay fight. “Procter & Gamble, which supports U.S. Soccer through its Secret deodorant brand, also said it was making a donation of $529,000 to the women’s national team’s players association, which represents the team’s interests in its dealings with U.S. Soccer,” Andrew Das writes. “The figure was symbolic, the company said: $23,000 for each member of the 23-player World Cup roster.”

Cover image via Metoo Myanmar