The women situation in Myanmar is quite paradoxical or ambivalent. Some will tell you that the women are pretty free and have a lot of power in their family as they control the budget. While others believe they are inferior to their husband and have no real autonomy. Few say that if they wear long curts and hide their shoulders, it’s just because they like it and it makes them feel like a princess. And it’s also a traditional aspect, the men also wear the longyi… But for other this traditional reason is an excuse to keep controlling women’s body. Women issues are a complex subject as it takes into account plenty of parameters, consciously and unconsciously.

The situation depends on each women, on their social background, on their history. Though everyone agrees on the importance of their crucial role in family building and children education, they are still expected to adhere to the submissive role laid out for them.  Those who don’t follow these unspoken rules tend to experience the virulent reactions of the conservative society. As evident women still suffer from certain kind of discriminations and sometimes even from human rights violation.

Women will have to find their way to break the mould of traditional wisdom and to repossess of their being, of their body.  Men have to help them in this endeavor and help co-build a society that suits to everyone.

Woman sounds Human : From the object to the subject


Woman sounds Human
Crédits Painting Chuu Wai Nyein

Women still are considered and treated like an object: something that is used, bought or sold. Women trafficking was a common practice in South-east Asia and Myanmar and is unfortunately still topical.

I have met Yu Yu Myint Than, the manager at the Deitta Myanmar gallery, which promotes the independent documentary photography, filmmaking and multimedia production in the country. Yu Yu is an engaged photojournalist, interested in covering the hidden stories on human rights. When I met her, she was working on a documentary about women trafficking between Myanmar and China, a long and arduous project. I can’t wait to discover the documentary’s findings once finished.

Trafficking is the direct result of the gender imbalance in China. The one child policy of the state combined with the social construct of male child preference has had doubly tragic consequences. In the past, it drove mass forced abortions that endangered the life of the mothers and today many Chinese citizens are not able to find a wife in their own country and chose to buy them abroad. This vicious chain has reduced women to the sad state of slavery; they are exploited both for work and sex and lose their freedom and dignity.

Yu Yu puts back women as subject, subject by the mere fact that she talks about their history and subject as human being, actor of their destiny.

There is a taboo on women body, women sexuality as if it is exterior to themselves.

StrongHer & SexShe, « Synonym of Self »


StrongHer & SexShe
Crédits Painting Chuu Wai Nyein

Chuu Wai Nyein, a young talented artist from Mandalay, who lives now in Yangon wants to retake possession of woman body and destiny. She paints strongHer and sexShe women.

She began to paint after her 16 years old sister has been attacked by a man. She was behind Chuu on a motorbike and a guy grabbed her chest. According to Chuu, physical and verbal agression against women is really common.

In January, her exhibition Synonym of Self at Gallery 65 assembled 61 paintings of liberated women, a good start in the fight against sexism. She integrates Burmese tradition such as longyi patterns in her art. She wants to show that women can be both Burmese and free at the same time. There is a way to find a balance between preserving tradition and promoting women rights. The aggressive reactions she garnered from some men proves that it’s still a burning issue.

I totally fell in love with the painting, the artist and the woman. The canvas are beautiful, the messages fundamental. I will just conclude by using an extract of the synopsis.

« Women are born with the potential to be strong-minded, yet as they grow up, they tend to forget this power due to constant pushing and pulling by social currents. {…} Here, the ladies emerge from this state with the brilliant glow of newly born stars. They emerge from the depths of the heart, from the neurons, from the meat, the bone, and the blood. Reacting to the same catalyst but expressing themselves in waves of diversity. Synonym of the self. »

There’s Men in WoMen : Living together


There is men in women
Crédits Painting Chuu Wai Nyein

We are speaking about women, but we cannot talk about women without talking about men. As I like to say: there’s Men in WoMen.  Men have an important role to play: they are part of the story.

I was able to experiment this principle at Mon Intensive English Program (MIEP). This English language school is dedicated to the ethnic minority group known as Mon, in Mawlamyine region. The objective of the program is to empower and motivate young generation to work for their communities and get into leadership position. The students between 16 to 24 years old live at the school separately by gender in boarding house along with the teachers. This school hosted me for few days, a unique opportunity to discover the Mon culture, their daily routine and to have beautiful and deep exchanges.

I tried to make them aware of gender issues and spoke with them about MétamorFaiseurs project. Despite it being difficult for them to understand the essence of what I meant, the exchanges still were absorbing. I was surprised that some already wore the germs of change. They don’t always necessarily differentiate between women and men. They also promote the same happy destiny, and career opportunities for both.  A few (women and men) spoke about women as free, strong and smart.

In the functioning of the school it-self, I could sense a « gender friendly » ecosystem. In this school, women are encouraged (as much as men) to be into leadership position. They all participate in the daily routine: women and men cook together and help each other with their homework. I felt a spirit of mutual aid, solidarity, and kindness.

And to illustrate this point, my quote « There’s Man in WoMan » was reused by Lin Nay Min (The main teacher) during the International Women Day with the message : « HAPPY MON WOMEN DAY!!! », a lovely gesture.


The history of WoMen is a modern challenge that engages every body as subject… as actor.


Below some pictures of Mon Intensive English Program :).