Women in politics must combat the cultural landscape marked by male dominated households and political offices, which place women in the role of passive observer. Women are able to discuss the basic social issues, yet often are prohibited from decision making. The women’s position is that of domestic caretaker, not policy maker.
This rigidity of custom stifles many women – while some women believe women should have the same rights as men, not all these women succeed or even attempt to overcome long standing biases. Some women submit to prevailing standards and maintain that only men should concern themselves with politics.
Nevertheless, despite discrimination and violence, many women in Burma have been politically active from the colonial period up to the present. Of these political women, many become political prisoners.
Imprisonment, harassment, financial hardship and death are all documented results of political activism in Burma. Women involved in political movements enter the political arena aware of the prejudices and risks, and are not shielded from the harsh realities of activism, suffering these consequences along with men.
Women political activists and women political prisoners also face other dangers unknown to men, including sexual harassment, rape and reproductive health risks.
Their experiences parallel the history of the democratic movement and exemplify the depth of the plight of those who fight for freedom and equality in Burma.