Emerging women of Burma

Geplaatst op 27 september 2013

Ursula at workIk heb de We women foundation opgericht naar aanleiding van mijn onderzoek in Noord Thailand. De vrouwen uit Birma vertelden mij dat ze meer gelijkheid en mogelijkheden nodig hebben om zich te kunnen ontwikkelen tot leiders. De We women foundation helpt deze vrouwen om hun droom waar te maken, door hen te assisteren op hun weg naar leiderschap. We hebben meerdere programma’s om zo in staat te zijn om vrouwen op verschillende niveaus van hun ontwikkeling bij te staan: 1.Voorbereiding op de universiteit. 2. Studiebeurzen. 3. Carriere Ontwikkeling. 4. Ondersteuning op de universiteit. 5. Alumni Ontwikkeling. 6. Gender dialogen 7. Onderzoek. 8. Lobby.

Vamos Bien helpt ons met het lobby programma. Veel vrouwen werken heel hard om Birma te veranderen en dit is niet makkelijk voor hen, omdat vrouwen minder kansen hebben om in publieke functies te werken en te strijden voor hun gemeenschappen. Voor het werk dat zij verrichten krijgen zij nauwelijks of geen erkenning. Om deze redenen gaat We women de Emerging Women of Burma documentaire opzetten. De documentaire belicht opkomende vrouwelijke leiders in hun gevecht om hun land Birma weer op te bouwen na 50 jaar dictatorschap. Dit is geen makkelijke taak, want de overheid schendt nog steeds de mensenrechten en er is weinig ruimte voor individuele vrijheid.

We women student Nang Noon

We women student Nang Noon

We zullen vrouwen uit verschillende etnische groepen volgen in hun gevecht om op te komen voor de belangen van hun gemeenschappen, vaak met gevaar voor eigen leven. Deze documentaire zal een bijdrage leveren aan het bewustwordingsproces dat vrouwen in Birma educatie willen en nodig hebben, omdat ook zij willen deelnemen aan de strijd om Birma weer op te bouwen. Door vrouwelijke rolmodellen te portretteren in een korte film, kunnen we een bijdrage leveren aan de verandering van de stereotypering van vrouwen en kunnen meer vrouwen de kans krijgen om actief deel te nemen in het publieke leven.




Emerging Women of Burma Campaign Final Report
Placed March 28, 2014

Logo We women foundationMarch 14th, 2014 marked the end of We women foundation’s immensely successful Emerging Women of Burma campaign. The campaign aimed to raise awareness of the continuing struggles for women in Burma, to highlight the incredible work already being done inside Burma and to provide support for the work of We women foundation.
Altogether the campaign raised over US$ 11,800, attracted the attention of international media and engaged a wide range of stakeholders including We women students, local and foreign supporters, and rights advocates from Burma.

The campaign culminated in the launch of We women foundation’s first documentary project, Emerging Women of Burma, which chronicles the difficulties and triumphs of seven emerging women leaders in Burma. The aim of the documentary was to bring awareness to the international audience about the outstanding work of women who are rarely on the front pages of newspapers and also to inspire the next generation of women leaders.

The documentary
In June 2013 We Women Foundation began the search for women community leaders within Burma. The call for nominations was sent out to a broad cross section of CBOs and BGOs both on the Thai/Burma border and inside Burma. They came back with great responses, 25 nominations in total. We women foundation then set out to contact the nominees. This proved difficult as many of the women work in remote areas and do not often have access to telephones, Internet or mail. After much deliberation, seven incredible women were selected to be showcased in the documentary.

The seven women chosen hold a range of positions: one a Member of Parliament, others NGO leaders and community activists. All of the women are beacons of hope for the future of Burma. Their stories, ranging from overcoming lack of support for educating girls to economic desperation that led to the difficult decision to become a sex worker, to becoming empowered women committed to doing work for the benefit of the community, are incredibly powerful.

We want to thank everyone at Vamos Bien for their funding of the making of the documentary. With your support a small film crew was sent to Burma in November 2013, where they spent two weeks filming and conducting interviews. The raw footage was then edited, translated into English and finally completed in March 2014. The 45-minute documentary was launched in Chiang Mai as the highlight of the fundraising campaign, to help bring awareness and bolster support for rising women leaders. The documentary will be released in the Netherlands in Summer 2014.

The Emerging Women of Burma documentary launch was the capstone to the whole
campaign and a wonderful closing celebration. The documentary premiered to an audience of over 85 people at Chiang Mai’s dedicated documentary film center, Documentary Arts Asia. Following the screening, the packed house engaged We women founder, Ursula Cats, and filmmaker, Jai Jai, in a Q&A session about the women featured and issues raised in the film. We women foundation students also viewed the Emerging Women of Burma documentary at a special screening and shared their thoughts. It is clear from the discussions that followed in each case that the documentary is educational, thought provoking, and inspiring. Our students identified with the struggles that the women leaders retold and expatriate audience members were moved by the opportunity to put a face to the repression they have only abstractly heard about. As a whole, viewers of Emerging Women of Burma are convinced of the potential that the young women in Burma hold for creating a safer, more equitable and more prosperous future for their country.

We women foundation is incredibly excited to continue to share the documentary, spreading more insight and inspiring more support for women’s education and leadership in Burma along the way. Already we have seen a great response from the international community, due in large part to the media outlets that have championed the campaign’s mission. The Daily Beast touted “Burma’s Emerging Female Activists are Ready to Lead,” Yahoo Shine profiled two We women students hot on the path to becoming key social leaders in Burma, and Just Means and WINGS: Women’s International News Gathering Service linked We women foundation and the Emerging Women of Burma documentary to the global push for increased opportunities for women. Regional news outlets with particularly high influence in Myanmar and Southeast Asia, including Democratic Voice of Burma, the Irrawaddy, and Mizzima News, also published stories about We women and the documentary.

As the Emerging Women of Burma campaign comes to a close, We women foundation feels proud and encouraged by the increased enthusiasm and interest alertness that the campaign’s activities have garnered for women’s issues in Burma. Bolstered by the financial and intellectual support of the campaign, we will continue to support young women in their pursuit of meaningful educational and career objectives and enhance promotion of women’s leadership in this time of great opportunity for Burma.

Thanks again Vamos Bien for your role in the change making process in Burma. The women from Burma feel motivated, moved and driven after seeing this documentary. The stories of the courageous women give them hope and strength to stand up and become the next generation of women leaders in their country.


Inspiration from E Pleeth Baung
Placed on March 27, 2014

E Pleeth BaungE Pleeth Baung, one of the women featured in our upcoming documentary, Emerging Women of Burma is from Lashio, Northern Shan State and is of Wa ethnicity.  She founded the Gawng Loe Mu (Three Mountains) organization to provide Wa women with educational programs. Baung is particularly dedicated to working for women’s empowerment and equality in remote areas of Burma, communities which are often ignored and unserved by the international community and the government of Myanmar itself.
Below is an excerpt from her  interview featured in We women‘s Emerging Women of Burma documentary!

“Wherever I go and meet with the authorities, they think I am about to set up a political party. Thus, I must prove by my actions that this is not what it is about. But, I can’t prove it immediately, I must gradually explain this to them through my actions.

Another challenge is that I am young and a woman. Generally there are no such women in my community who are active politically and socially, they have doubts about me and start asking me my background and history – who I am?, where do I come from? who are my parents? etc…This might not be regarded as a difficulty, however it has taken me a long time to build their trust in me and my work.”


Inspiration from Daw Than Myint Aung
Placed on March 13, 2014

Daw Than Myint AungDaw Than Myint Aung, Founder of Thukayeikmyon is one of the amazing women featured in our upcoming documentary, Emerging Women of Burma. She is a passionate and tireless worker and philanthropist. She has established an orphanage for children with HIV, has organized campaigns for the prevention and treatment of leprosy, and support for the elderly and for family services.

One of the projects she is involved with is the Free Funeral Service Society (FFSS). She has participated in the activities of this organization since it was founded in 2001 and is currently their Vice President.

In her recent interview with We women, Daw Than Myint Aung shared a very vivid story that gives us some insight on what motivated her to set up an organization dedicated to support the elderly.

“In some townships, there are families living on unauthorized lands. Let me give you an example. There was an 80 year old woman suffering from a paralytic stroke and her 50 year old son who lived with her.  The son passed away suddenly from a stroke and Free Funeral Service Society was contacted to bury his body. As it was my duty to pick up the body, I went there with other FFSS’s volunteers.  There was no one to welcome us, only people who were watching us from the distance. They came and told me to take the old lady who was left in the home. The old lady was alone and there were flies around her and on her body. She was not dead yet so we could not take her. I could not think of where to send her. If I sent her to a hospital, she needed to have a family member or a relative and to pay hospital fees. She has no family, so a hospital cannot accept her.

Homes for the aged accept old people who do not have a home; relatives or funds but there are two conditions the old person needs to fulfill.  Firstly they need to be able to take care of themselves, like changing their clothing, and secondly they should have ability to feed themselves.

The old lady I am talking about is one of the many, they might be blind, or have a broken leg, and there are no places to accept them. I see such cases many times and I thought what if they were our grandparents, what if they were our parents and what if we were them, how would we feel? There should be no such cases in our society.   
I was determined that these old persons should be provided with shelter, and health care, and should receive love till the end of their lives with dignity.

So, I wrote about it in Kalayar magazine. The readers and people from the literary community shared my articles with others and I discussed it with my colleagues and we decided to address the issue. With donations from readers and donors, we set up “See Zar Yeik Home for the ailing aged” in 2010. Old persons living near a rail road or in a hut, or being abandoned near a rubbish dump or in hospital or near someone’s houses, they are all sent to “See Zar Yeik”.”

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