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Women20

Women around the world: Myanmar

In collaboration with EyeEm, DW invited photographers to share images that offer an insight into the lives of women around the world. This one was taken in Myanmar by Bruno Guerreiro.

DW: Where did you take the picture?

Bruno Guerreiro: The picture was taken at the the Mingalar market in Nyaung Shwe, Myanmar. A local market offering the usual mix of fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, house hold goods and clothing. 

Do you come from or live in the country where it was taken?

I took the picture while visiting Myanmar on a two week holiday, but I live in London.

Who is in the picture?

The woman in the picture is a daughter, a wife, a mother, and an entrepreneur. She’s a market merchant and owns a stall selling chicken and eggs. In this picture, you see her preparing a chicken while chatting to her fellow merchant next door.

What inspired you to take it?

I found her smile, the joy it emanated and the satisfaction it expressed, infectious. When coupled with her traditional clothing and "thanaka" - the traditional and natural paste made from ground bark - on her face, she exuded an aura I had to capture. 

What does your image say about the culture of women in the country where it was taken?

"Women can be the breadwinner" - I found Burmese women to be strong, hardworking, confident, friendly and most importantly, happy. The woman in the picture clearly takes pride in running her own business while probably also having to manage domestic work.

How important are gender issues to you personally?

I personally feel gender equality is very important and one of the pre-requisites, along with fairness and justice - to enabling a healthy and happy society. We need to celebrate gender differences while promoting equal rights. Everyone should have access to health, education and economic development. It is disheartening to see that women, in many parts of the world, are disrespected and their contribution goes unrecognised. I feel education is key to overcoming any biases but we all need to promote gender equality.

Do you think women are fairly treated in the country where your image was taken?

Yes, Myanmar empowers women at all levels. Women enjoy the same legal rights as men, like in most western countries. They have access to education, are able to choose a husband of their choice, divorce, and own property. During my time in Myanmar, the women I encountered came across as confident and free speaking. I had the feeling women were treated fairly and equally.

What still needs to be changed?

There are still some limitations with regards to religion. In some temples for instance, there are areas for men only. And Buddhist monks cannot touch women - it is considered that divinity cannot be achieved by women.

Where do you think life as a woman would be easiest?

Nordic countries are very good in this regard but, despite the recent Brexit drama, I would say the United Kingdom. In the UK, both men and women can own property, marry and divorce, and are equally responsible for their children. Gender equality is fairly balanced among students/workforce and there are now more women in high-level positions than ever before.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

EyeEm is a Berlin-based community of 18 million photographers from all over the world.

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