Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Arakanese women leave state to find work

Rathidaung (Narinjara): Economic hardship in Arakan State is forcing many women to leave for the eastern side of Burma to work as day labourers in a company which is seeking employees from Arakan.

“The economic situation in Arakan state has been worsening by the year since 1988. This year is the worst, so women are also leaving the state like men looking for jobs in other parts of Burma,” a teacher in Rathidaung said.

Yuzana, Oil-Palm Company, has offered people from Arakan state work in the oil-palm gardens located in Tanintharye division, near the Thailand border. So many unemployed women in Arakan state have left Tanintharye division to join the company as day labourers.

A woman from Rathidaung said,” Many young women from the northern part of Rathidaung Township, one of the most neglected areas by the Burmese junta, left their villages for Tanintharye division to work in the oil-palm gardens.”

The company is also providing travel fees as well as advance money for food to the women coming from Arakan state to work in the oil palm gardens.

“We have received 30,000 Kyat as salary from the company after joining and the company also provides food and traveling expenses. So we are placed comfortably. Many women from across Arakan state left their homes for Tanintharye to work in the oil-palm gardens,” she said.

The Burmese junta has neglected Arakan state, never bothering to build factories and industrial units since the country’s independence in 1948.

The teacher said,” our state is very rich in natural resources but it is very poor because there is no job opportunity for the people. The government has not built any factory in our state leaving us with no opportunity for work. There are only two job opportunities in Arakan state for young people -- one is joining the Burmese Army and another is becoming rickshaw pullers.”

Many Arakanese youths, both educated and uneducated, left the state for neighbouring countries including Thailand and Malaysia and Burma proper in search of jobs.

This year women also followed the men. They left Arakan state for other parts of Burma, especially Tanintharye Division to work in the many oil palm gardens as day labourers.

“Women leaving the state have to do with this year’s economic slowdown. Many farmers in Arakan state are facing severe economic crisis after paddy and rice prices plummeted, the,” he teacher added.

This time last year, 100 baskets of paddy was 200,000 Kyats in Arakan state but this year the same amount of paddy is only 90,000 Kyats.

However, there is no government plan in place in Burma to help the farmers overcome the economic crisis.

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