SHIN­ING STARS In their own words

Myan­mar has a host of women break­ing ground and hav­ing suc­cess in a va­ri­ety of fields. The fol­low­ing are some ex­am­ples who dis­cuss their lives in their own words.

Mizzima Business Weekly - - NEWS ROUNDUPS - Mi Sue Pwint Rev­o­lu­tion­ary and peace­maker

Mi Sue Pwint is a woman of the pen. She doesn’t like in­jus­tice. She doesn’t like it ei­ther when the strong bully the weak. She started to write un­der the pen name ‘Mi Sue Pwint’ in times of anger over op­pres­sions. Af­ter she wit­nessed the bru­tal­i­ties of the 1988 uprising and heard the chair­man of the Myan­mar So­cial­ist Pro­gramme Party, U Ne Win, say, ‘The gun is not used to shoot up­ward at the sky’, the writer Mi Sue Pwint took up weapons. From some of her life sketches, you will come to re­al­ize that she is some­one who has been lead­ing her life from two op­po­site sides: look­ing for a way to peace while tak­ing up arms as a rev­o­lu­tion­ary.

The life of a rev­o­lu­tion­ary

I was born in Loikaw in Kayah State. I fin­ished my high school ed­u­ca­tion there. I ar­rived at the Yan­gon Univer­sity Hlaing Cam­pus in 1985. The univer­si­ties closed in 1988 due to the public move­ment for democ­racy. So, I didn’t com­plete my stud­ies at univer­sity. In­stead, I en­tered the armed in­sur­gency. My parents didn't want their daugh­ter to be like this be­cause I was a univer­sity stu­dent who was about to be a grad­u­ate. They were wor­ried about me. Fi­nally, they un­will­ingly let me go. I served as a mem­ber of ABSDF for more than 20 years. I gath­ered the women mem­bers of the ABSDF in 1995 and founded the Burmese Women’s Union. I tried hard so that women could get in­volved in po­lit­i­cal life. I was se­lected as one of the Ex­ec­u­tive Committee mem­bers of the ABSDF at a 2014 con­fer­ence.

Jun­gle rev­o­lu­tion­ary or school teacher

I was first posted in the jun­gle to a Red Kayin armed in­sur­gency group. When I ar­rived there, the school could teach the stu­dents only up to 7th stan­dard. They didn’t teach Myan­mar at all. So, I met with the re­spon­si­ble per­son­nel for ed­u­ca­tion and urged them to teach Myan­mar in ad­di­tion to their own lan­guage and lit­er­a­ture. I told them that the stu­dents might face dif­fi­culty in the fu­ture if they didn't learn Myan­mar. Fi­nally, they per­mit­ted the teach­ing of Myan­mar at their school. Next year, we es­tab­lished a high school by gath­er­ing univer­sity grad­u­ates and univer­sity stu­dents who were about to be grad­u­ates. I fo­cused on the ed­u­ca­tion of the chil­dren. And I also served as the editor of the ABSDF news let­ter ‘Dawn-Oh-Way’ or ‘Pea­cock’s call’.

I got mar­ried in1994-1995. My hus­band is a for­mer stu­dent ex­ile from Myeik and Dawei. We were from dif­fer­ent camps. We met when we were trans­ferred to carry out our du­ties at the cen­tral of­fice. He was in charge of the army of­fice while I was re­spon­si­ble for in­for­ma­tion. We met each other there and got mar­ried. We have one daugh­ter. I gave birth to my daugh­ter in the jun­gle. I was 30years old at that time. Some for­mer com­rades from the coun­try told me to give birth in town. They said that they would support me. But, I was a Cen­tral Committee mem­ber at that time. There were many other preg­nant women in our camp. It was not pos­si­ble for me to give birth alone in town. But, un­for­tu­nately, the re­spon­si­ble med­i­cal as­sis­tant who helped me dur­ing de­liv­ery was in­ex­pe­ri­enced. And it was a dif­fi­cult de­liv­ery as well. By the time other med­i­cal as­sis­tants ar­rived to help us, too much time had passed. The baby got in­fected when her um­bil­i­cal cord was cut. Two or three days later, she suf­fered from jaun­dice and a trau­matic brain in­jury. She never be­came a nor­mal child. Now, she can nei­ther speak nor hear.”

Her at­ti­tudes as a leader

What I’ve done is not wrong. To lead my life as an armed in­sur­gent has been one of the big­gest de­ci­sions in my life. There are so many younger com­rades in our group. There are new ones as well. Some peo­ple in the refugee camps have to suf­fer more than I do. There are many peo­ple who are more un­for­tu­nate than my daugh­ter. I feel that I am re­spon­si­ble for them. In this way, I have to mo­ti­vate my­self.

Rev­o­lu­tion­ary and peace­maker

The gov­ern­ment has de­cided to go for a change. They have de­cided to work for peace as well. They started to ap­proach eth­nic groups. They in­vited our ABSDF to hold dis­cus­sions with them. At the same time, there were dis­cus­sions within our group. We are armed in­sur­gents. But, we have done that in order to reach apo­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion. We didn’t do it as an aim­less re­bel­lion. Our aim is to meet and dis­cuss. So, we have par­tic­i­pated in the peace process. We are get­ting deeply in­volved in the process, start­ing from the cease­fire to the path of po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue. We are try­ing our best.

Daw Than Myint Aung

A writer who has changed her­self to be a part in the coun­try’s trans­for­ma­tion process

Writer Daw Than Myint Aung, a phi­lan­thropist, is now work­ing in the civil ser­vice for the devel­op­ment of Yan­gon city. She is car­ry­ing out her duty to the best of her abil­ity to make Yan­gon a beau­ti­ful and pleas­ant city with well-dis­ci­plined peo­ple and make good use of waste ma­te­rial. On the other hand, she is still car­ry­ing out phi­lan­thropy which she has been do­ing for a long time.

Ac­cept­ing the task as­signed by the gov­ern­ment

I have never thought of car­ry­ing out the duty as a mem­ber of City Devel­op­ment Committee un­der the gov­ern­ment depart­ment. And I have never been a civil ser­vant be­fore. Even a civil ser­vant has to re­tire from work at the age of 60. Now, the gov­ern­ment as­signed this duty to me at the age of 63. So, this is un­ex­pected work for me. I couldn’t refuse it as it’s an as­sign­ment of the gov­ern­ment.

Since be­fore I be­came a mem­ber of Yan­gon City Devel­op­ment Committee (YCDC), I have al­ready es­tab­lished the Aung Foun­da­tion So­cial En­vi­ron­ment and Phi­lan­thropy Train­ing School. There, I have been teach­ing or­ga­ni­za­tional man­age­ment skills to the young peo­ple who want to be char­ity work­ers. They have to learn the at­ti­tudes, dis­ci­plines and good­will that they must have to carry out phi­lan­thropy work. They also learn what to do and how to do sys­tem­at­i­cally for ed­u­ca­tion, en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion, food and con­sumer goods se­cu­rity, con­sumer pro­tec­tion, con­sumer rights, fi­nan­cial loans, poverty re­duc­tion and much more. I have been teach­ing these things at the train­ing school since I was a phi­lan­thropist.

‘No change will hap­pen in the coun­try if you just sit and talk about it. If you want a change, you your­self must get in­volved in that change.’ I used to say it in ev­ery lit­er­ary talk. Now, I have been caught by my own words.

Lead­er­ship skills of a woman

The his­toric Gov­ern­ment Tech­ni­cal In­sti­tute (GTI) in Myan­mar had been un­der YCDC since 2007. We man­aged to trans­fer it back to the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion. That’s a mile­stone of the new gov­ern­ment. As a mem­ber of YCDC, I went to Aus­tralia. There, I met with the may­ors and ob­served their sys­tem­atic garbage dis­posal. I have care­fully learn how they gen­er­ate en­ergy out of garbage and pro­duce nat­u­ral fer­til­izer from waste ma­te­rial.

Ac­tu­ally, Yan­gon is a city with mod­ern build­ings and ho­tels among garbage piles. It seems as if we were liv­ing in the mas­sive garbage pile. As for YCDC, they will clean the streets and roads. They will trim and cut trees where nec­es­sary. And they will also take care of the parks. As for the public, they will be most re­spon­si­ble for the back lanes of their res­i­dence, I think.

I am not say­ing that YCDC is not re­spon­si­ble for that at all. As a gov­ern­ment depart­ment, they are re­spon­si­ble to some ex­tent. But, the res­i­dents are more re­spon­si­ble as they are the ones who have to suf­fer the dis­ad­van­tages di­rectly. It’s quite fright­en­ing when we started to clean the back lanes. They all were messy and dirty with filthy waste. Peo­ple throw down their garbage onto the back lanes. But, it will go up to the build­ings as mice, mos­qui­tos and flies. In such case, the el­derly, the chil­dren and the public have to suf­fer from dis­eases. Some peo­ple don’t no­tice that.

Some tasks can be done in a short pe­riod of time, but some can­not. It takes only 20 days to clean the back lanes in a town­ship. But the tasks like squat­ter-re­lated projects, proper sew­er­age sys­tem and road­side shops are the longterm ones. Even though we can­not do them overnight, I hope that we will make it within a pe­riod of time. We are try­ing our best to make it hap­pen within the five-year term of this gov­ern­ment even though it can’t be fully per­fect.

At­ti­tudes as a leader

It doesn’t mat­ter what you are. There is only one dif­fer­ence be­tween men and women in terms of phys­i­cal strength. Ev­ery­one has their own de­ter­mi­na­tion, qual­i­fi­ca­tion and ca­pa­bil­ity. If you are a woman, you must do all you can as a woman. If you are a man, you must do all you can as a man. Our State Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Su Kyi is still work­ing ac­tively even at the age of over 70. She is an in­spi­ra­tion to me. So, I dare not com­plain. I am car­ry­ing out my duty to the best of my abil­ity. Myan­mar and Myan­mar peo­ple must not be for me. I am try­ing my best so that I my­self can be for my coun­try and its peo­ple.

It doesn’t mat­ter what you are. There is only one dif­fer­ence be­tween men and women in terms of phys­i­cal strength.

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