World of Work magazine

  1. Special 2013 edition

Myanmar turns a corner

The changes in Myanmar since the 2010 elections have been dramatic. The military-turned-civilian government that came to power then has defied sceptics and confounded critics with the breadth and pace of reform in the country. While it is still relatively early days with some serious issues yet to be resolved, Myanmar's citizens are enjoying freedoms they have been denied for the last quarter of a century.

The World of Work magazine of the ILO travelled to the “Golden Land” for a first-hand account of the progress so far – and the challenges that remain – as Myanmar turns a corner on the road towards democratization.

Text by Marcia Poole
Photos by Marcel Crozet

A new path out of adversity

When cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar in May 2008, causing more than 130,000 deaths and ravaging the Irrawaddy delta region in what has reportedly been the country’s worst natural disaster, two small, isolated fishing villages, Maeikthalinkune and Myatthaywawa, were among the worst hit.

The ILO’s infrastructure project on the Irrawaddy delta in Myanmar, not only re-established access to villages devastated by the cyclone but also gave rise to a bustling community life.

Helping women to help themselves escape poverty

As often happens in such tragedies, the poor and vulnerable were the worst hit. Among the victims, many women who survived the cyclone suddenly found themselves as the head of their household, and needing to work.

"Business Kind", a non-profit organization set up in response to the devastation caused by cyclone Nargis, employs women to run small businesses that benefit poor communities.

All in a day’s work

Myanmar children, women and men at work, from the river banks to the big city.