Burma

UN Honors Myanmar Women’s Rights Activist

By San Yamin Aung 23 December 2019

YANGON — Ma May Sabe Phyu, a longtime human rights and gender equality activist from Myanmar, has won the United Nations Development Program’s N-Peace Award for those championing women’s voices.

The prominent activist is one of 11 winners of the N-Peace Awards this year from the region. The other winners include journalists, activists, campaigners and advocates from Afghanistan, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

The UNDP said the award was given in recognition of Ma May Sabe Phyu’s multi-sectoral approach to building on the gains for women’s rights in Myanmar.

“Through her long-standing career in Women, Peace and Security, she has continuously identified and advocated ways to address laws and policies, as well as cultural and social norms which impede the achievement of full gender equality.”

Ma May Sabe Phyu, the director of the Gender Equality Network, a coalition of more than 100 civil society organizations, including domestic and international NGOs, that collaborate to advocate for women’s rights, is known both as a voice of peace and equality. In 2015, she was also honored with the US State Department’s International Women of Courage Award for her tireless efforts for women’s rights and peace-building.

She told The Irrawaddy on Monday that there was much still to be done.

“As one who was involved in the movement [for gender equality], I know it is slowly moving forward. But we still have a lot to do,” Ma May Sabe Phyu said.

The activist said the understanding and acceptance of the need to do more for gender equality, women’s participation in the peace process and the prevention of gender-based violence had increased.

“But women’s involvement at the decision-making level is still low,” Ma May Sabe Phyu added.

She said there were many other women devoted to women’s rights and peace who deserved to be recognized.

The activist said the enactment of the Protection and Prevention of Violence against Women Law and the law’s enforcement would be her priorities for next year.

Together with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and the Central Statistical Organization, she is working to compile the first data on sexual violence cases in the country, including about the perpetrators.

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