Myanmar - Social development

Although considerable advances have been made in health services, Myanmar's goal of establishing a welfare state has been limited by lack of public funds. In 1956, the government inaugurated a social security program that compensates workers for wage losses arising from sickness, injury, and maternity leave, provides free medical care, and establishes survivors' benefits. The program is funded by contributions from employers, employees, and the government. As yet, Myanmar does not have unemployment insurance, but public employees are entitled to old age pensions.

Women have a high status in Myanmar's society and economic life. They may retain their maiden name after marriage, may obtain divorces without undue difficulty, and enjoy equal property and inheritance rights with men. Spousal abuse is infrequent; married couples often live with extended family which deters abuse. Traditional views of women often prevent them from entering male dominated occupations, and they do not always receive equal pay for equal work.

Myanmar's military regime continues to systematically engage in human rights abuses. Prison conditions are poor and mistreatment of prisoners is widespread. Arrests are often made arbitrarily and many detainees are held incommunicado.

Many ethnic minorities are denied full citizenship. Those of Muslim, Indian and Chinese descent, for example, are not free to travel domestically and are barred from certain university programs. The ethnic Chinese face discrimination and harassment by officials.

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