COVID 19 manifesto: Women from Informal Settlements

4th June 2020,

Ward 67, Dagon Seikkan, YANGON

Press release: Face-masks donation from informal settlements to Yangon authorities

Bawa Pann Daing women business group from the Yangon informal settlements community donated face-masks to Yangon Regional Government, Yangon City Development Council, and General Administration Department to support the government in its reaction to the COVID-19 health crisis. Informal settlements are among the most vulnerable communities facing COVID-19, high population density, scarcity of water and health services, informal and insecure employment pose great challenges in times of pandemic. Informal settlements in Yangon house 450 000 people, mostly migrants impacted by rural poverty and environmental disasters. City dwellers contribute to the new industrial workforce and help to attract investment as they represent a cheap workforce to be found near industrial zones especially Hlaing Thar Yar and Dagon Seikkan. Urban poor can’t access formal housing as few efforts are being implemented to build new affordable housing, real estate project too often focusing on high and middle-income customers. Informal settlements are born as a solution to this problem. Meanwhile, informal settlements communities fear eviction from government bodies and political representatives. Excluded from municipal services, informal settlements receive no support for waste management, water supply, electricity supply, and face discrimination when applying for regular jobs and schools for their children.

A group of women leaders from the 20 000-population settlement in Dagon Seikkan, Ward 67 demonstrated great resilience and adaptability in the wake of the COVID-19 threat. They created Bawa Pann Daing business group, a women-led social business producing facemasks. While most of the workforce is suffering from the loss of income and are struggling to make ends meet, they decided to start production of cotton-made reusable, washable facemasks. In one month, they set up a production facility and have produced 6000 masks. Supported by the French Development Agency, Green Lotus, and Action Aid Myanmar they distributed mass freely to their community. They also decided to contribute to the national reaction to COVID-19 and offered in total 800 masks to YCDC, GAD, and YRG. This demonstrates their spirit of cooperation, despite regular threats of eviction from real-estate developers, the community chooses to support and trust the country elected representatives.

Bawa Pann Daing business group, and the community of ward 67 in Dagon Seikkan wishes to show its gratitude to the Yangon Regional Government, Yangon City Development Council, and General Administration Department in this time of challenge. The community hopes that its donation highlights the benefit of mutual understanding and cooperation. Informal settlements wish that the government will ban eviction and consider welcoming them as part of the city in the spirit of democracy. 

Signatories:

Members of Bawa Pann Daing (Women Business Group)

Daw Zar Zar Htwe                 Manager         

Daw Khin Khin Win               Seamstress      

Daw San San Myint                Seamstress      

Ma Htet Htet                           Seamstress      

Ma Ei Ei Htwe                        Seamstress      

Ma Ei Thu Aung                     Seamstress      

Ma Ei Zarchi Phyo                  Seamstress      

Ma Htet Htet Aung                 Seamstress      

Ma Nann Ngu Wah                 Seamstress      

Ma Nyunt Nyunt Than            Seamstress      

Daw Myint Myint Maw          Seamstress      

Daw Win Win Nwe                Seamstress      

Ma Zin Mar Win                     Seamstress      

Ma Khin Lay Mar                   Seamstress      

Members of Ward Disaster Management Committee

U Aung Zaw                           General Secretary of WDMC

U Aung Win                            100 Households Leader         

U Cho Oo                                Member of WDMC   

U Tint San                               Member of WDMC

Daw Soe Soe Khaing              Member of WDMC   

Daw Htay Htay Win               Member of WDMC   

Daw Chaw Hsu Hlaing           Member of WDMC

U Win Hlaing                          Member of WDMC   

U Pite                                      100 Households Leader         

U Nyunt Win                          General Administration Department Administrator