N Bawk Hkwan is the Development Program Leader for the Kachin Baptist Convention in Kutkai Township, a small town in Northern Shan State. “Being an activist in a small brown area is so challenging,” says N Bawk Hkwan, “Everyone knows if I move even a step.” Outside of her work as the Development Program Leader, N Bawk Hkwan works on women’s issues, land conflicts and environmental issue in the area.
N Bawk Hkwan started her activism by raising awareness about land issues and land rights to the local farmers in Northern Shan State. Then she continued organizing the community and advocating with stakeholders through media. N BawkHkwan’s activism is incredibly significant—land issues in Burma are mainly addressed by men and only a few women activists become involved. N Bawk Hkwan’s activism has had large impact on the community. She organized a farmers’ network which stopped a mega investment project that threatened to confiscate land from hundreds of people.
Shan State is rich with natural resources and is a high armed conflict area in Burma. The area is highly militarized, and the People’s Army—the army authorized by the State—are notorious for taxing local people and engaging in drug trafficking in Northern Shan State. These two factors are driving an increase in foreign investments and in human rights abuses.
Htet Htet joined us in Ottawa for the 2015 Sister-to-Sister Mentorship Program. She completed six weeks of communications and advocacy training alongside two young women activists from South Sudan and Honduras. Htet Htet is now continuing her work to defend women’s rights in Burma.
Catch up on the 2015 Sister-to-Sister Mentorship Program blog to learn more about Htet Htet