Women's organizations


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Women leaders

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi has become the face of the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma. Suu Kyi is the general secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD), a leading opposition party in Burma.

After living in Oxford for many years, Aung San Suu Kyi returned to Burma in 1988 to nurse her mother. Aung San Suu Kyi was in her homeland when students and other Burmese demonstrated against the 26-year-old one-party socialist government and spoke out in favor of democracy. The military State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) seized power on September 18, 1988 and crushed the pro-democracy movement. In the ensuing crackdown, several thousand people were killed.

SLORC allowed multi-party general elections in 1990. The NLD, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, won the elections in a landslide. SLORC refused to recognize the election results and put elected government leaders under house arrest. Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her efforts to get democracy in Burma. She was released from house arrest in 1995, but her movements are restricted to the area around Yangon (formerly Rangoon), Myanmar’s capital.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of assassinated independence hero Aung San, was held under house arrest from 1989 to 1995. She was placed back under house arrest in 2000 when she tried to travel by train to Mandalay in defiance of restrictions put on her.

On May 6, 2002, Burma's military government has released the pro-democracy leader. With her 'unconditional' release many supporters are hoping she will be able to wrest control of the country from the military. Her release in 1995 did not herald any political change. .

Links to other websites on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
Free Burma: Aung San Suu Kyi
DFN: Aung San Suu Kyi
BBC Profile: Aung San Suu Kyi

Statements and speeches
Freedom from fear
Work for the People's Interests
Video and audio message of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's address during the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights


Cynthia Maung

Dr. Cynthia Maung is a physician from the Karen ethnic minority in Burma who for the past ten years has been living in the refugee camps along the border of Burma and Thailand. She is known widely as "Dr. Cynthia."

Herself a refugee, Dr. Cynthia has become a "Mother Teresa" to the Burmese refugees along the Thai-Burma border. In 1988, she established a clinic which treats thousands of patients each year for free. She also serves as health advisor to eastern Burma and manages many of the relief projects in the area including medic, midwife, and community health worker training, rice and blanket distribution, mobile medical teams, and sattelite clinic development. Her main clinic serves as a model health care facility and as a training center for the many lay health workers in the area.

The founder and head of the Mae Tao Clinic in the border town of Mae Sot, Thailand, is the 2002 Ramon Magsaysay (Asia's Nobel Prize) awardee for Community Leadership. Dr. Maung is being cited for her humane and fearless response to the urgent medical needs of thousands of refugees and displaced persons along the Thailand-Burma border.

In 1999, Maung was awarded the first Jonathan Mann Award for humanitarianism. She also won the 1999 John Humphrey Freedom Award of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development.

Relevant links:
World Press Review: Cynthia Maung

Cynthia Maung's Clinic
Burmese activists win 1999 John Humphrey Freedom Award


Daw San San Nwe
Daw San San Nwe is an internationally acclaimed writer and journalist. Ms. Nwe, a vocal supporter of the opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, was jailed in Rangoon’s notorious Insein prison for allegedly fabricating and circulating false news to be used by foreign journalists and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Burma. She was arrested with her eldest daughter, Mo Mo Tun, on August 5, 1994, for involvement as a leading member of a writers’ group within the National League of Democracy (N.L.D.). Amidst mounting pressures from international human rights organizations, Ms. New was released on July 18, 2001.

Her works include books on socio-political subjects, including such titles as Alone in the Wind and Rain, A Small Umbrella Does Not Cover Enough, and The Prison of Chalcedony. One of her short stories, "The Children Who Play in the Back Alleyways", relates to traumatic memories of the violent suppression of demonstrations in Burma in 1988.

Sources and relevant links:
People's Stories: Freedom
IFEX Alert: Daw San San Nwe


Aung San Suu Kyi

Cynthia Maung
Daw San San Nwe