Many people, including women, have the impression that the fairer sex have equal rights in Myanmar, but in reality, they do not, said State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
“Women often boast that they have equal rights with men. But we know that that is not actually true,” she said at a business talk attended by women entrepreneurs yesterday.
However, there were many cases where Myanmar women have worked by keeping abreast with men in all possible ways, she added.
“What I mean by in all possible ways is that if we look back in our history, we find that our women have been involved in doing business since the beginning.
“That is why, to have a business talk with women entrepreneurs today, to hear the voice of women is very appropriate,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi told some 100 women entrepreneurs at the talk held at Kempinski Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw.
The talk was also attended by economic experts, Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr Win Myat Aye, Union Minister for Information Dr Pe Myint and Union Minister for Labour, Immigration and Population U Thein Swe.
The State Counsellor also said legislation to ensure and protect women's rights is necessary, adding that it is necessary to review whether such laws are right or in conformity with present conditions in the country.
“We all accept that Myanmar women have been playing a pivotal role in doing business. And we all understand the necessity of a safe working environment for women.
“We will have to try to make the law effective and protect the women,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said.
She reminded those involved in business that evading tax was an offence, punishable under the law.
“Not paying taxes or committing tax evasion reflects the spirit of people who want only opportunities but do not want to take any responsibility. And if it is not in line with the law, we will have to take action,” she said.
Paying taxes is a form of contribution to the nation, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said.
“By paying tax, one can support the nation. Tax revenues paid to the nation are utilised for the people. Tax revenues are used not only for the physical sector but also for mental sector such as peace process and education,” she said.
She called on people in business to make a concerted effort to work for the nation and to prevent problems.
Daw Win Win Tint, CEO of City Mart Holdings Ltd., said a good business environment is necessary for economic development in Myanmar.
“Myanmar ranked 170th out of 190 countries in an economic survey conducted by the World Bank on good business environment. The survey was based on 10 economically important criteria.
“It shows there still are many difficulties doing business in Myanmar," she said.
Daw Win Win Tint hoped there would be more business activities in the country in the next 20 years with the participation of the younger generation with a focus on economic development.
“After approving a certain reference for good business environment, I want reforms on the economic instrument of the government to be conducted," she added.
Director of KBZ Bank Daw Nan Lai Kham said that KBZ is providing banking services for the development of the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector.
“KBZ bank is doing SME banking separately for the development of SME sector. We women entrepreneurs are the outcomes of development in the SME sector,” she said.
Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr Win Myat Aye acknowledged that women faced obstacles in business.
“The women have taken a leading role in the business since ancient times. So, they should continue to keep that role. We see that [today’s talk] is very good.
“Our women have capabilities. But they face hurdles in uncovering those capabilities. If we can find ways to overcome those obstacles, women will become powerful business persons,” he told the media.
During the afternoon session, a commitment letter on gender equality was signed between the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and UN Women.
Women entrepreneurs who attended the talk mainly discussed women's rights, emergence of a good business environment and Myanmar's economic development.
– Translation by Zaw Nyunt