Location

Jereld R. Nicholson Library: Grand Avenue

Subject Area

Political Science

Description

Democratic transitions are known to improve the quality of life for women in former authoritarian regimes, yet under the new democracy of Myanmar (Burma), women are experiencing a tremendous amount of restrictions in both the personal and political spheres. Myanmar’s ultranationalist movement led by Buddhist monks has coincided with the rise of activism by women organizations. Neither of these movements would have been possible under the military dictatorship. Their mere existence demonstrates the increase in freedom of speech and freedom of expression in Myanmar. Yet, the nationalist movement strives for an overtly patriarchal and discriminatory society whereas the women’s movement promotes gender equality. This research will examine what happens when an undemocratic nationalist movement and a democratic women’s movement occur concurrently in the same new democracy, how this event reshapes the relationship between women, the state, and religion, and what the consequences are for Burmese women such as whether democratization has improved or suppressed women’s sociopolitical status. Rather than discrediting democracy, this essay will contribute to an awareness of how democratic values can be manipulated for discriminatory and divisive purposes by various political actors in new democracies, and thus, encourage further research in refined methods of democratization.

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May 5th, 3:00 PM May 5th, 4:30 PM

Women, Religion, and Democracy in Myanmar

Jereld R. Nicholson Library: Grand Avenue

Democratic transitions are known to improve the quality of life for women in former authoritarian regimes, yet under the new democracy of Myanmar (Burma), women are experiencing a tremendous amount of restrictions in both the personal and political spheres. Myanmar’s ultranationalist movement led by Buddhist monks has coincided with the rise of activism by women organizations. Neither of these movements would have been possible under the military dictatorship. Their mere existence demonstrates the increase in freedom of speech and freedom of expression in Myanmar. Yet, the nationalist movement strives for an overtly patriarchal and discriminatory society whereas the women’s movement promotes gender equality. This research will examine what happens when an undemocratic nationalist movement and a democratic women’s movement occur concurrently in the same new democracy, how this event reshapes the relationship between women, the state, and religion, and what the consequences are for Burmese women such as whether democratization has improved or suppressed women’s sociopolitical status. Rather than discrediting democracy, this essay will contribute to an awareness of how democratic values can be manipulated for discriminatory and divisive purposes by various political actors in new democracies, and thus, encourage further research in refined methods of democratization.

 

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