MCC Daily Tribune

Sexuality and Self-Defense--Strategies for Women's Empowerment in Myanmar

Please attend this open event to learn about critical work being done in Myanmar by two extraordinary women, Dr. Thet Su Htwe and Kyaw Thein.

Monroe B at 1 pm on Friday, September 13.

As a medical doctor, Dr. Htwe became keenly aware of the widespread need for women and men in Myanmar to become more knowledgeable about human sexuality from a positive perspective that encourages mutual respect. After leading workshops on sexuality connected to women's self-defense trainings held by Women's Open Spaces, she established an organization named "Strong Flowers" to provide customized sexuality training for groups of people of all ages and backgrounds. This article gives a glimpse into some of the amazing work she has been doing and how her Muslim identity is integral to her own understanding of the importance of the work she is doing.

Kyaw Thein's involvement has focused on the self-defense trainings. As a black-belt in karate, she has a skillset that few Burmese women have and she has been eager to teach and empower others. She was educated in the male-dominated field of civil engineering, and like Dr. Htwe, her consciousness of oppression and discrimination as a woman is linked to her daily struggles as a young Muslim woman whose family is originally from Rahkine state in the eastern part of Myanmar. This part of Myanmar has been in the news frequently as the international community has struggled to understand the intense persecution that has led more than half a million Rohingya to flee into neighboring Bangladesh. Even in Yangon, far from the violence in communities closer to the border, Kyaw Thein is seen as a Rohingya and she thus experiences numerous forms of discrimination. As social media and the political campaigning of reform-era Myanmar fuels Buddhist nationalism in virulent forms, the hopefulness that met the end of military rule has been tempered by the reality that Burma is far more complex, and ethnically and religiously divided than many outsiders realize.

Lee, Christina
Global Education & International Services