Haircuts Can be Serious Business for Myanmar Women

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Khin May Phyo, 18, fought back tears as she bickered with the barber over the length of her haircut.

“If you want to make 20,000 kyat [23 dollars], then it has to be cut here,” said Kay Aye Mon, chopping the girl’s waist-length hair at the base of her neck with her palm.

“But if you only want 18,000 kyat, we will cut it here,” the barber said, chopping 4 centimeters lower.

“Can’t I get 20,000 kyat and keep it a bit longer?” Khin May Phyo asked while trying to maintain her composure.

She ended up settling for 18,000 kyat.

In Myanmar, where a fourth of the population of 60 million people lives below a poverty line of 1.35 dollars a day and access to microfinancing is minimal, getting a haircut has long been a popular way for women to raise cash.

“I will give the money to my mother,” Khin said.

Khin, a garment worker, makes 50,000 kyat a month while her mother, a golf caddy, makes 3,000 kyat a day.

Source: The Jakarta Globe (link opens in a new window)

poverty alleviation