Our inaugural mentoring conference call with Burmese women activists was led by the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) delegate, Soe Win. The 15 Burmese women who were on the phone with us, mostly from the ethnic states and rural regions, gathered together at an internet café for the Skype conversation.
Joining us from Boston was Professor Alan Lightman of MIT (Founder of the Harpswell Leadership Institute for Young Women in Cambodia) and Dr. Susan Roosevelt-Weld (Executive Director of the Law Asia Leadership program at Georgetown University Law School). For many of these Burmese women, it was the first time that they were speaking on Skype.
Many of these women were peace negotiators at the grassroots levels in the ethnic states of Karen, Kachin, and Shan. Some women shared their stories of teaching leadership skills in squatter communities, such as collective bargaining, social business, and after school vocational training and organizing. Also discussed was the first consultative process to develop a law on violence against women that had brought the women’s groups of Burma together for a consultative process.
One of the most powerful calls to action for women to lead democratic change in Myanmar came from Nila and her young colleague, both below the age of 35, who are running for office in 2015. Nila is committed to training the National Democracy League’s youth wing so that the pipeline is always full of a new generation of political leaders.