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04-May-2017 00:38 by 5 Comments

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You can see her in business houses, signing contracts and making decisions for the firm, or find her in any of the professions or in parliament.

In most of Asia women have had to fight for equality with men primarily on three matters: marriage, divorce, and inheritance.

The marriage itself continues this principle of independence and equality.

The wedding is not a religious ceremony but a civil contract — in fact no ceremony is necessary at all; a man and woman can simply make known their decision to "eat and live together."If, by any chance, either partner of a marriage should wish to terminate their contract in divorce, this, too, is possible and acceptable under Burmese law.

In my own research work in the village system of Burma I have even found vestiges of a matriarchal system which must have flourished here at one time.

The inheritance of certain oil wells, for instance, belonged exclusively to women; in some cases the inheritance to the headmanship of a village was through the female line.

During the days of the Burmese kings, women were frequently appointed to high office and became leaders of a village, chieftainess, and even ruled as queen.

And in a series of Burmese folk tales concerning wise and remarkable decisions in law, which have been collected by Dr.To this day we have no family surnames in Burma and a woman keeps her own name after marriage.Our more recent history has done little to diminish our ancient rights.To people who come to Burma for the first time there are two things about the status of our women that seem to impress them with particular force.My foreign friends have often told me that they are surprised to see an ordinary Burmese woman sitting at her stall in a bazaar, dressed in the usual htamein and jacket, her hair arranged on top of her head in the traditional manner, often smoking a cigar—and handling her trade with all the hard-headed business acumen of a man.For centuries —even before recorded history, from all we can deduce—Burmese women have accepted as their right a high measure of independence.