SURVEY OF DIGITAL RIGHTS IN MYANMAR FROM A GENDER PERSPECTIVE:

                                                hbs Myanmar invites Expressions of Interests

In developed countries, women are more likely than men to use the Internet for education and knowledge,[1] so digital technologies give opportunities and helps empowering women. For example, Internet/digital platform can play a role of as unmediated access for women and sexual minority to learn the difficult issues to express, spread and strengthen their political claims and their rights.

At the same time, there are numerous challenges to gender equity in the digital world, from access limitations to restriction to freedom of expression by online harassment and other factors.

The Heinrich Böll Stiftung (hbs) invites for expressions of interest to conduct a survey on the situation of Digital Rights in Myanmar from a Gender Perspective.

According to a resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on 5 July 2018, digital rights are the same human rights as exist in the offline world, that also need to be realized and protected in the online world. They include, specifically, the right to freedom of expression, the issues of digital divide based in gender, the right to privacy/safety, access to internet and information, and multi-stakeholder participation including women and girls to enhance their access to information and communication technology.[2] In the spirit of this definition, hbs Myanmar intends to commission a survey on the gendered dimension of digital rights in all its facets, in order to guide hbs Myanmar’s own future engagement in the field.

2020 digital growth report

Issues

According to Digital 2020 Global Overview Report, Myanmar has 22 million internet users and 22 million social media users with 41% of internet penetration rate, which has increased by 4.8% compared to previous year. Myanmar has a population of estimated over 56 million with more than 50% of female population.[3]

The digital leapfrog in Myanmar provide internet and mobile access with cheaper price. Even though the mobile phone and data are becoming more affordable, but are still out of reach for many women as the cost of mobile data still represents a significant proportion of income for poor family. The agricultural or garment factory workers may earn only 3000 to 4000 MMK per day.[4] It makes more difficult for women to invest in accessing information they need over the needs of family, and they are likely to be paid less than men even in the same job.  So, many of them do not have enough skills or capacities to access internet here in this country. For instance, women from rural areas are not aware of the benefit of technology access and skills due to such barriers as mobility, income, and managing household, so they are left with a few options to build their digital skills.[5]  

Besides, it is known that women and other sexual minorities as well were underrepresent in digital sector. A 2017 study noted: “Women in Myanmar face occupational segregation, a 30 percent wage gap, and extremely limited opportunities for public leadership at all levels. ICT sector-specific employment opportunities for women is still less than in any other sectors such as agriculture, office works, finance, and so forth. Gender norms of society also cause lower labor-force participation rates for women than men. For example: if the jobs require long hours (such as ICT startups), it can be considered as inappropriate by women, their families or spouses.”[6] Even people in the digital community hold on to stereotypical opinions among genders suchlike: “men are better when it comes to the technical, hard skills such as programming languages, and women are re stronger when it comes to soft skills, such as communication”[7].

Meanwhile, along with the new technology, new security threats have emerged, and there is only slight awareness of the importance of data protection and privacy in the country. Online harassment affected victims’ offline experiences including strangers trying to blackmail them for money through social media; lead them to commit suicide. Gender activists group are promoting Hashtag activism that bring the issues.

Objective & Expected Output

hbs Myanmar has been supporting partners in Myanmar on issues of digital rights for some time. It intends to expand engagement in this field, and for this purpose wants to have available a baseline document outlining conditions and issues in the field. This survey will build on available existing (published or unpublished) information, but may include specific data newly gathered, preferably through online surveys or similar methods.

Its objective is to identify the extent of gender gap and relevant gender issues in the digital world of Myanmar, and to develop proposals and recommendations to build a gender-inclusive digital world and a gender-inclusive digital community.

The study will have a focus on the following areas:

  • Access to the online world, in terms of economics and social expectations and limitations, as well as knowledge/training;
  • Freedom of thought and expression;
  • Safety from online harassment and abuse, including gender-specific dimensions of online security and privacy;
  • Participation of women in workforce, decision-making etc. in the IT sector, including a survey of gendered dimensions of work in the IT sector in Myanmar.

Other considerations and focal areas could be added, if necessary.

Special consideration should be given to non-binary dimensions of gender, i.e. the special situation, concerns and needs of LGBTI persons regarding the realization of digital rights in Myanmar.

The survey is expected to advise hbs Myanmar on possible core areas of future engagement in this field. A possibly short version should provide an overview about the gendered dimension of digital rights in Myanmar, available to be published through hbs Myanmar’s website.

In order to conduct this survey, we are looking for a consultant (individual or company) with documented expertise in the field.

We expect the survey to be completed in 3-month period.

If you are interested, please send us a notice outlining your workplan and budget by no later than 25 June 2020 to below contact:

ohnmar.nyunt@mm.boell.org

Alison @ Ohnmar Nyunt

Heinrich Böll Stiftung Yangon Office – Myanmar

T: 09798479054


[1] https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Digital-Inclusion/Women-and-Girls/Documents/ReportsModules/Special%20report%20on%20digital%20literacy%20for%20Women%20Girls.pdf, Pg.15

[2] https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/1639840?ln=en

[3] https://countrymeters.info/en/Myanmar

[4] https://www.irex.org/sites/default/files/myanmar-gender-study-findings.pdf

[5] https://www.irex.org/sites/default/files/pdf/women-digital-skills-myanmar.pdf

[6] https://www.irex.org/sites/default/files/node/resource/gender-digital-divide-myanmar-assessment.pdf, pg: 35, 65 and 66

[7] https://frontiermyanmar.net/en/why-women-are-driving-myanmars-it-sector-growth