Meet Hla Mae*. Over the next months, she will share stories of Burmese girls’ struggles to maintain their freedom and rights, post-coup. Hla Mae is a face of the revolution occurring in the streets of Myanmar.
Hla Mae, now 21 years old, is of Shan ethnicity, lives in the city of Yangon, and is Buddhist. She grew up in a small village outside Yangon. Her parents were loving but poor.
She could not attend public school because her family could not afford to pay for a uniform and stipends for the teachers. Instead, she received early childhood and middle school education in a monastery and was taught by monks.
Ironically, her education was much better than in the public schools. For example, in the schools, children learn rote memorization to enable them to pass their exams.
55% of adolescent age girls are pulled out of school to work and supplement income for the family.
In her monastic school, Hla Mae learned critical thinking – how to identify problems, analyze the options, and determine solutions. As a result, she completed secondary school, and participated in online college courses for a couple of years. In addition, she worked part time in a store to augment her family’s income.
Hla Mae hoped to become a doctor to help others. She was smart, a hard worker, and was encouraged to pursue her dreams. She was a teenager when Myanmar opened up to the world, bringing technology and opportunities into their lives. Everyone had a smartphone, and she learned about girls her age in other countries. She truly believed that her dreams were realistic and she was on THE path.
Then, in the wee hours of February 1, 2021, her country fell again into darkness with the military junta’s coup.
Communication with the outside world was cut off. The military’s brutal actions took precedence. Would her ‘normal’ ever return? Would she survive the brutality or would she be imprisoned or killed? What would happen to her?
Her fragile future was shattered.
Like most youth her age, she has experienced freedom. Now, she’s angry. She will not give into the junta’s demands. Instead, she has joined the Civil Disobedience Movement, standing with her comrades and risking her life for democracy. All as a part of the revolution in Myanmar. She aspires to be a changemaker and a role model for girls.
Now, her life consists of protesting in the streets, armed with a hard hat, a face mask, and a sign displaying the words “No to dictatorship, no to patriarchy”. She joins rural female activists, LGBTI community members, ethnic minority women in traditional clothing, and upper-middle-class women. They stand together seeking a return to realistic dreams of education and freedom.
Do you want to help the women of Myanmar?
Many people do not know of Myanmar. Share this news with them! Share it with your elected officials and encourage them to recognize Myanmar’s National Unity Government as the legitimate governing body.
The humanitarian crisis in Myanmar is severe.
Educational Empowerment is still able to transfer funds into the country, albeit through a backdoor mechanism. If you would like to support women on the front lines of resistance with food, medical supplies, blankets, phones, etc., please consider one of the following organizations. All are able to deliver items into the hands of the people.
*Due to significant security concerns, Hla Mae is a ‘virtual’ young woman. She embodies the stories, hopes, and dreams of many girls part of the revolution in Myanmar.
Educational Empowerment is a member of Girls’ Globe. View all their posts here.