WOMEN, LAW AND EMPOWERMENT
Exploring how legal and policy change in Myanmar have impacted rural women’s empowerment and livelihoods in Kachin
This research, carried out by an independent consultant in support of Oxfam’s programming and influencing efforts, seeks to consider how specific policies and laws impact female smallholder farmers, especially in remote areas. It was developed to contribute to a larger body of advocacy aimed at influencing the Netherlands food security policy and to gather more evidence about the potential for investing in female small-scale farmers in remote areas. Kachin and Myanmar were chosen for a case study because of Oxfam’s extended work with farmers in Kachin, since 2011, and because developments in Myanmar since 2012 provide a helpful measure to explore how changes in law and policy can empower women farmers. With these aims and considerations in mind, the research sought to explore the assumption that land registration projects in Myanmar can empower female smallholder farmers, increase their access to formal and informal loans, and that access to these types of finance would further increase their productivity. From this, we developed our central research question: ‘What policy instruments/interventions have supported the improvement of the livelihood situation and empowerment of female farmers in Kachin, Myanmar? This paper presents our answers to this question. It presents an analysis of relevant land and credit law and policy in Myanmar in relation to women farmers’ rights, as well as presentation and analysis of our findings from field work carrying out in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with 15 men and 16 women in Banmaw, Mohnyin and Moe Kaung Township of Kachin. Throughout this document, we investigate the experience of women farmers and in particular whether the law and its implementation empowers women in Kachin or offers improvements in their livelihood situation. This document will begin by setting out our research process in more detail. It will then detail a law and policy analysis before presenting the findings from field work and resulting discussions.