For the past four years, I have worked as part of the Edunet staff, educating disadvantaged people in my community. I have become an agent of change, as I am responsible for facilitating community engagement through critical thinking methodology, thus allowing people to become more proactive in their communities. These tools are invaluable in raising awareness for women’s rights and useful when training women to assert their political demands.
In Myanmar, many grassroots women’s organizations are fighting for social and political equality. However, many are minority ethnic groups from rural areas and do not have the adequate training or education to positively impact their communities. Language is a basis for discrimination in the country and therefore acts as a barrier to meaningful social and political transformations. Members of minority groups often become targets of economic discrimination and are forced to work in dangerous conditions. Nevertheless, they continue to fight for a brighter future and work to develop their advocacy skills.
Many women’s organizations in Myanmar have begun holding meetings with international organizations – distinguished advocates, civil society leaders, as well as celebrities and politicians – in order to bring their struggle to a broader audience. Sadly, women leaders from ethnic and rural communities are not given the opportunity to participate in these international forums. Participation in these meetings allows women’s organizations to increase awareness for their cause and to build transnational networks of support. The challenges facing women’s organizations in Myanmar have taught me the importance of building coalitions and cross-national alliances in order to engender positive change locally, nationally and internationally.
I hope to organize training sessions with grassroots women’s organizations and share with them the knowledge and skills I learned in the Sister-to-Sister Mentorship Program. Although there is still much to learn, I feel that as a result of my experience with the Nobel Women’s Initiative, I have the tools necessary to take on any challenge I may face. It is my hope that by continuing my work empowering the women of my community, I can be the catalyst for important social changes in Myanmar.
Su Thet San was one of the Nobel Women’s Initiative Sister-to-Sister Mentorship Program participants in 2013. She has just returned home after spending six weeks in Ottawa with our team and two other young women’s rights activists from Liberia and Guatemala.
Read the Sister-to-Sister Mentorship Program blog to find out more about Su Thet San and her experience in Canada.