• Emerging Women of Burma

    Look Out

    Emerging Women of Burma

    In Burma, a long-closed country that’s just beginning to open its doors, courageous women are taking a cue from democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and guiding their communities into the 21st century.

    Strong-willed and poised, Aung San Suu Kyi is inarguably Burma's most iconic symbol of its newfound freedom—a democracy leader who languished for years under house arrest in the struggle to bring political and human rights to her country until her release in 2010. Now, as Burma’s political environment evolves, Burmese women are following in the footsteps of "The Lady," as she's known, to ensure equality comes with it. The emergence of women’s rights is climbing to a crucial moment when female leaders much step up to claim their place in guiding the pliable nation into the 21st century. To achieve this, the women of Burma are seeking support in the international community, and a Thailand-based organization is working to sponsor some of the most promising, outspoken female leaders.

    The We women foundation provides professional support and educational opportunities for women from marginalized communities in Burma. The foundation builds each woman’s capacity to make and influence policy decisions within their communities—a privilege that would otherwise be made by outsiders.

  • Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty

    Behind Bars

    Burmese Activist Jailed

    After organizing an unauthorized protest, Naw Ohn Hla has been sentenced to two years of hard labor.

    Naw Ohn Hla, a leading Burmese human rights activist, was arrested last month along with nine other women after staging a protest of the Letpadaung copper mine without permission. She went to trial for disturbing public tranquility on August 29, without counsel as her lawyer was unavailable that day, and was sentenced to two years’ prison time with hard labor. “It is highly questionable,” her lawyer has said, “whether this procedure represents a fair trial.” Since 2004, Naw Ohn Hla has held a Tuesday prayer group to pray for the release of political prisoners. Global human rights activists are now calling on Burma for her release.

  • Khin Maung Win/AP


    Suu Kyi Wants to Be President

    But first must change the constitution.

    Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s opposition leader who spent 15 years under house arrest, would like to become president of her country. There’s just one problem. Suu Kyi has two British sons and Myanmar’s constitution explicitly forbids anyone who’s child is a citizen of a foreign country from becoming either president or one of the two vice presidents. Suu Kyi, a member of Myanmar’s parliament, will push for a referendum to amend the constitutional clause keeping her from the presidency. “There are those who say I shouldn’t say I would like to be president,” she acknowledged Thursday. “But if I pretended that I didn’t want to be president I wouldn’t be honest, and I would rather be honest with my people.”

  • Me N Ma Girls attend the Women in the World Summit 2013 on April 4, 2013 in New York, United States. (Daniel Zuchnik)

    Girl Power

    Burma’s New Groove

    The pop group Me N Ma Girls has released its latest single, ‘Girl Strong.’

    Burmese girl-group sensation Me N Ma Girls won over audiences with their debut album, Mingalar Par, in 2011, and now they’re back with a new single. “Girl Strong” is an up-tempo dance-pop song, as catchy as their first hit (in English, “Give a Girl Time”). The five young women performed both songs earlier this month at the finale of the Women in the World Summit. After their song and dance, each stated her college degree (the most surprising: zoology) and shared a story of slipping past the censors despite wearing colorful wigs in one music video. Here’s hoping they push the limits again when they film for “Girl Strong.”