Suu Kyi: Japan gender equality poor


Staff Writer

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday returned to Kyoto, where she spent time as a researcher in the 1980s, to speak on changes in her society and efforts to close its gender gap, which she said is not as bad as Japan’s.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate and head of the National League for Democracy party was named an honorary fellow at Kyoto University, where she undertook research from 1985-1986. In a lecture to over 500 students and faculty at the university, Suu Kyi spoke about the role of women in Myanmar’s sociopolitical transformation over the past few years.

“In 2010, the Union Solidarity and Development Party, the ruling party, won over 80 percent of the seats, the same as my party won in 1990, and this is why it’s said the elections were flawed,” she said.

Of the 664 members of Parliament in Myanmar, only a few are women. But in last year’s by-elections, where 45 seats were contested, her NLD won 43, creating 13 new female lawmakers. Suu Kyi, 67, said narrowing the gender gap remains a work in progress, but that it is still better than the situation women face in Japan and South Korea.

“There are many who imagine Burmese women are on an equal footing with men and that there is no gender discrimination, although that is not true,” she said. “But I have to say gender discrimination is not seen to be as great as it is in this country. Research and statistics show Japan and South Korea have some of the greatest gender differences in the world today.”

Economists, especially at the World Economic Forum, have argued that with more economic incentives, the gender gap will close. But Suu Kyi said such thinking may be flawed. “If it’s true that the gender gap is largely economic in nature, why is it that the greatest gender gaps in the world exist in Japan and South Korea? It’s not just economic factors. It’s social values as well,” she said.

  • Tracheal

    Do look at the Death Gap, which overwhelmingly ‘favors’ the male Disposable Sex, before worrying about the relatively minor and mostly false ‘gender’ gap.

    • “The gender gap” in Westernized countries always refers to one thing only: entitlements for women. Opposing views and facts do not fit into the concept, so they require their own (less important) cultural labeling, such as “the death gap”.

      Of course those two things are directly related: men and women tend to have different values. Men values maximizing their success and wealth with a willingness to tolerate discomfort and risk, whereas women value flexibility and and comfort ahead of “success”. Making light about the “wage” or “gender” gap, really means to favor forcing men to make yet more sacrifices so that women can have their comfort and flexibility while getting paid the same as those who take more risks.

      The reality is that unmarried women in their 40’s tend to make more money than their male counterparts. They never planned for children, so they desired less flexibility and made their choices accordingly — which shows you the real “equality” that is there, if anyone wants to actually take it instead of sit back and complain about their own choices and the choices of others.

  • “If it’s true that the gender gap is largely economic in nature, why is it that the greatest gender gaps in the world exist in Japan and South Korea? It’s not just economic factors. It’s social values as well.”

    Then certainly Suu Kyi must endorse equality among draft participation in South Korea so that 50% of the military is comprised by women, including 50% of front line combatants. After all, “equality” goes both ways, doesn’t it?

    • Tracheal

      Talked with a young South Korean woman recently. She’s was very happy that those great big American men are there to protect her for the North Koreans. Here in the US, she had lots of Americans boys chasing her but her male cousin couldn’t even get a date with an American girl because he was too little. S*xual equality anyone? And it’s utterly absurd that the term s*x is censored here. It is something that affects every single person on the planet after all.