“We are not afraid, we are resisting”: A strong message from the Director of Myanmar’s Gender Equality Network
Lauren Mellows and Helena Gronberg, International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
At 8pm every evening since February 1, 2021 hundreds of thousands across Myanmar bang pots and pans to demonstrate their non-violent resistance to the military coup. This symbolic act is part of the Red Ribbon campaign, a nationwide Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), launched by Myanmar’s medics to disrupt the normal functions of the country.
“We strongly believe that if all the civil servants join the movement, there will be no workers at the office, no doctors at the hospitals and no teachers at schools. We all believe the Civil Disobedience Movement will work and will affect the functioning of the military council,” explains May Sabe Phyu, Director of the Gender Equality Network (GEN) and a member of the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL). The movement’s message is clear she continues. “We are not afraid; we are resisting the coup and we will fight back until we die.”
GEN is one of the largest networks working to bring about gender equality and the fulfilment of women’s rights in Myanmar, a country marred by a turbulent democracy and a history of ethnic armed conflict and military rule. Established in 2008, GEN’s diverse and inclusive network is made up of more than 100 civil society organizations, NGOs and individuals. For more than 10 years the organization has worked hand in hand with Myanmar’s government to facilitate better policy and legislation for women and girls. Additionally, as a member of the Alliance for Gender Inclusion in the Peace Process (AGIPP) GEN has consistently advocated for women’s participation in the ongoing peace process between the government and several ethnic armed organizations (EAOs). Now, with Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratically elected leaders detained, their work has abruptly halted:
“All of our work, advocacy and activities need to be stopped, we are in the middle of nowhere. What is going to happen and how we will continue our work, right now is quite unknown.”
“We are not violent, but we are showing resistance”
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