February 14, 2021

To: Member and Observer States of the United Nations Human Rights Council Regarding the Crisis in Myanmar

Re: Open Letter from Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Organizations Calling for Action to Protect Women’s Rights in Myanmar

Dear Excellencies,

We are writing to express our deep concern regarding the danger to women’s rights and gender equality from the brazen coup d’etat executed by the Myanmar military on February 1. As you consider how to respond to recent events in Myanmar, we urge you to consider the need to protect women’s rights and support brave on-the-ground women’s rights defenders.

The Myanmar military’s forceful takeover of the civilian government and subsequent violent crackdown on peaceful protesters are a dangerous setback for attempts to instill democracy and the rule of law in Myanmar. But these actions are especially devastating for women, and threaten to reverse significant progress made over the past decade towards ensuring that women in Myanmar have more opportunities, power and influence in society.

Using democratic institutions, women’s civil society organizations had begun to dismantle barriers to achieving gender parity and had started to weave important concepts regarding gender equality and women’s empowerment into the political, economic, social and cultural fabric of society.

This progress is gravely threatened by a return to military rule, and reversion to a patriarchal political regime. Women have historically been excluded from the Myanmar military and no women are in any positions of influence in the government installed by the junta, which is almost entirely male. The violent response to peaceful protests has already resulted in the death of one innocent women, shot by police without provocation. The military has also been implicated in other instances of violence against women, as reported by the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar. Simply put: A militarized Myanmar is a threat for women.

We urge Member and Observer States of the UN Human Rights Council, and the international community, to act immediately to protect women’s lives in Myanmar. Specifically, we urge the adoption at your February 12th Special Session on the human rights implications of the crisis in Myanmar of a Resolution to:

  1. Strongly condemn the actions of the military, taken against the will of the majority of people, and the government installed by the Myanmar military;

  2. Encourage an immediate dialogue conducted according to democratic principles and respecting the will of the majority of people;

  3. Demand the immediate release of all detained political leaders and activists;

  4. Support and fund the efforts of women’s human rights defenders and civil society organizations to raise awareness of human rights, gender equality, women’s rights, women’s

    empowerment, democratic principles and non-violent resistance;

  5. Establish immediate and regular monitoring and evaluation of the situation in Myanmar, with

    a particular emphasis on the safety of women, including by dispatching an in-country delegation (including the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar and a representative of the CEDAW Committee) to observe, document and report on the situation and by requiring regular reporting to the Human Rights Council and other UN mechanisms;


  1. Cease all violence and use of force in response to protests, lift all declarations of Martial Law, curfews and other restrictions imposed under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedures Act and allow for the full exercise of the fundamental right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly;

  2. Allow unrestricted access throughout Myanmar to all internet services, media platforms and other forms of communications;

  3. Allow the parliament elected by the strong support of the people in November 2020 to take office and allow elected representatives to fulfil their mandate without impediment.

We thank you for your immediate attention to this urgent matter.

For more information, please contact: May Sabe Phyu, Director, Gender Equality Networkmaysabephyu.director@genmyanmar.org, +959778875859

List of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Network/Organizations Calling for Action to Protect Women’s Rights in Myanmar

  1. Action Labor Rights

  2. Alliance for Gender Inclusion in the Peace Process

  3. Ar Yone Oo

  4. CEDAW Action Myanmar

  5. DAWN

  6. Equality Myanmar

  7. Gender Equality Network

  8. Good Shepherd Myanmar Foundation

  9. Human Rights Educators Network

  10. Kachin Women Peace Network

  11. Karen Women Empowerment Group

  12. Local Resource Center

  13. Mandalar Yaung Sin

  14. Muditar Foundation

  15. Myanmar Deaf Community Development Association

  16. Myanmar Ecclesia of Women in Asia

  17. Myanmar Independent Living Initiative

  18. NGO Gender Group

  19. Ninu (Women in Action Group)

  20. Peace and Justice Myanmar

  21. Progetto Continenti

  22. Pyi Gyi Khin

  23. Ratana Metta Organization

  24. Sex Worker in Myanmar Network

  25. Socio-Economic & Gender Research Institute Myanmar

  26. Spectrum - Sustainable Development Knowledge Network

  27. Thandaunggyi Women’s Group Organization

  28. The Fifth Pillar

  29. Water, Research and Training Centre-Myanmar

  30. Women’s Organizations Network Myanmar

  31. Yaung Chi Thit