Myanmar’s feminist bootcamp graduate elected to state parliament

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A women's exchange run by Shan Women's Action Network. Photo: Shan Women's Action Network

According to Myanmar’s constitution, many positions of power are described as “naturally suitable for men only”.

If you’re a woman living in Myanmar, you’re a second class citizen.

If you’re a woman living in one of Myanmar’s 135 ethnic communities, the situation is even worse. Horrifically, our partners report that ethnic women are frequently subjected to rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war.

Young Women Pray for Peace in Shan State

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While our Young Women’s Leadership Training goes on, so does the violence and conflict in Shan State continue. Recent attacks during May 2016 by the Burma Army have broken a ceasefire and have amounted to war crimes according to some critics. May’s violence in Shan State has left numerous dead and many traumatised by torture, bombing and being used as human shields. On the 21st of May, the youth in SWAN’s Young Women’s Leadership Training decided to hold a vigil for the victims, to send thoughts and prayers to the survivors and to manifest peace. Their training continues despite the unrest in their home state and they will hold more vigils if the attacks do not end.

The Burma Army has pushed further into territory in northern Shan State since the beginning of 2016, causing thousands more people to become internally displaced, and many fleeing over the border into China. Reports show that Burma Army soldiers have launched sustained attacks on civilians in the area, with local villages reporting widespread use of torture, rape, forced labour and unwarranted arrests.linkout These attacks come on the back of multiple Burma army attacks on villages in central Shan State at the end of 2015, which sent thousands fleeing to temporary IDP camps and across the Thai-Burma border. SWAN continues to assist some of these newly arrived IDPs through its crisis support centre located in Fang District, near the border.

To read more detailed and timely updates on fighting in Shan State, visit the website of the Shan Human Rights Organisation, www.shanhumanrights.org

Leadership, empowerment of women central to Asia-Pacific forum

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The forum was funded by the government of the Netherlands.

Dozens of women from across the Asia-Pacific region are in Melbourne this week for high-level meetings to find out how Victoria deals with domestic violence and other issues affecting women.

The week-long Women's Action for Voice and Empowerment (WAVE) forum is hosting women from Cambodia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, East Timor and elsewhere, paid for by a $22 million grant from the government of the Netherlands.