Girl Power in Myanmar

Girl Power in Myanmar

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Myanmar has a rich history of women who refused to play by the rules. Journalists who kept writing, artists who kept painting and female soldiers who kept serving their country even when they were attacked, bullied and told to go home.

Meet Ketu Mala. She is a Myanmar nun who everyday challenges the idea that only women who are poor, sick or hopeless become nuns in her country. Her story is one of 14 that we profile in our in-progress bilingual children’s book about women who have rocked Myanmar.

This is what this children’s picture book (ages 8-12) aims to do—inspire girls and young women by celebrating the extraordinary lives of 14 women, with diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, religions and occupations. Some like Dr. Cynthia Maung are well known, while others’ stories like that of Zarchi Win, who led a successful 8-month strike at her factory in Mandalay, are rarely told. What unites them is that they were not afraid to be bold, and use whatever platform they had to make change.

Alyson Curro
 is a gender policy specialist with journalism, research and advocacy experience in Turkey, the United States and now Myanmar. She is the author and creative director of this project.

Pyo Let Han is a feminist writer in Yangon, Myanmar. Along with three other women’s rights activists, she founded in 2015 and is now the editor of Rainfall, Myanmar’s first feminist magazine. Pyo Let Han is also the author of three novels about women’s experiences in Myanmar. Whether fiction or non-fiction, she uses her platform to challenge deeply engrained gender norms and make feminist ideas more accessible. Pyo Let Han translated the stories into Myanmar.

Kay Zin Su Wai (Ku Kue) is an illustrator, graphic designer and one of the few female graffiti artists based in Yangon. She received her Bachelor of Computer Information Systems (CIS) degree, International Diploma in Computer Studies and International Advanced Diploma in Computer Studies from London Metropolitan University. Ku Kue contributed five illustrations to this book.

Joosk Studio, the first animation and character design company in Myanmar, is getting a lot of attention. The founding illustrators share a passion for combining animation and education to send a wider message. Since its creation in 2015, the studio has worked on projects with Facebook, Phandeeyar and NGOs including the International Labor Organization (ILO). Joosk recently hired a female illustrator, Ju, who contributed four illustrations to this book.

Sandar Khine is a pioneer in the contemporary art scene. A graduate of Fine Arts from Mandalay University, she is known for her series of large female nudes. Sandar Khine contributed one self-portrait to this book.

Chuu Wai Nyein received her Bachelor of Engineering degree from Technological University and her Master of Arts degree at the National University of Art and Culture, both in Mandalay. She gained attention for her solo exhibition, Synonym of Self, in Yangon. Her exhibition was a response to the sexual harassment and discrimination women in Myanmar face, and explores themes of bravery, self-respect and passion. Chuu Wai contributed three illustrations to this book.

Phyu Mon is one of the first female performance artists in Myanmar. Born in Kachin State and graduated from Mandalay University, she uses performance art to comment on society and life around her. Phyu Mon started the Blue Wind Multimedia Arts Festival that debuted in 2009 to connect older and younger generations of female artists. Phyu Mon contributed two illustrations to this book.