At a meeting in Chiang Mai on Wednesday to mark the organisation’s 20th anniversary, Burmese Women’s Union (BWU) reiterated the need for continued work to support women who are suffering from the ongoing armed conflict in Burma.
Mi Sue Pwint, a former member of the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF) and one of the seven founding members of BWU, all of whom hail from the 1988 student movement, told the meeting that the BWU “has always strived for independence, without outside influence”.
Thwe Zin Toe, the outgoing general-secretary of BWU, said, “In the future, we aim to increase the role of women in politics in accordance with our organisation’s objectives, goals and expectations.
“Within the last 20 years, we trained many young women leaders and, as a result, improved the lives of young women, allowing them to work in various fields with self-confidence.”
The newly appointed Board Committee and Secretariat members for 2015-17 were announced at the gathering, which coincided with the group’s seventh biennial congress, with incoming Secretariat members stating their commitment to assist victims of human rights abuses, including sexual violence, and to tackle the impunity with which abusers act.
Other addressees spoke of the central importance of women in building a sustainable peace in Burma. Speaking as general-secretary of the umbrella organisation Women’s League of Burma (WLB), Tin Tin Nyo said that “BWU strongly believes in and promotes gender equality as well as political change in Burma.”
BWU is a founder member of the WLB, which includes more than a dozen women’s groups representing Karen, Karenni, Kachin, Shan, Palaung and other ethnic women’s interests.