Women, Law and Empowerment: Exploring how legal and policy change in Myanmar have impacted rural women’s empowerment and livelihoods in Kachin
This research was carried out in three townships in Kachin State, Myanmar. In those communities, farmland titling, supported under the Farmland Law of 2012, is an essential step in legally securing individual land rights for farmers and enabling access to cheap government loans for agricultural production. This law was the main identifiable legislation, with related policy, rolled out in support of farmers over the last decade. The research findings suggest this Farmland law has dramatically changed long-established dynamics around land ownership and government-citizen relationships. However, the law has also shaped a dynamic which largely formalizes women’s land access through other family members, entrenching their roles as subsidiary members of their households and subsidiary rights holders. Despite the active participation by many women in their communities, their rights remain caged by traditional values and gender roles. Had the law actively taken steps to promote gender equality, for example by requiring joint titles, which included the names of both spouses, it could have contributed to meaningful transformations in rural women’s rights and land governance.
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