Inspirational women from civil society and government win US embassy award


YANGON – Inspirational women from civil society and government won accolades last night at the Women of Change Awards 2018, hosted by the US embassy in Yangon.

The Karen Women Organization and individuals from the Myanmar Federation of Persons with Disabilities (MFPD) and the Department of Health Information, at the Ministry of Health and Sports, received recognition awards.

“We are holding these awards to recognise just a few of the people who have been doing great work to help the country,” Mr Scot Marciel, US ambassador to Myanmar, told reporters at the event.

The ambassador said the US embassy also planned to double the value of its US$700,000 grant program for women’s groups working towards the peace process and political dialogue.

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“We hope [the awards] will help more people in Myanmar become aware of the great work [women] are doing for the country, in areas like health and rights for the disabled,” he said.

Dr Thet Thet Mu is a deputy director general of health information at the Ministry of Health and Sports, where she oversaw Myanmar’s first demographic and health survey. Her work included groundbreaking research in conflict-affected areas.

The results of the research clearly show that people in Myanmar require much greater public health awareness, she said.

Policy-makers have used data from the survey to understand a wide range of issues including access to urban healthcare, domestic violence, nutrition and vaccination coverage.

Thet Thet Mu believes addressing the high mortality rate of mothers and children should be a priority for the health sector. Her department plans to conduct a second health survey in 2020-21, depending on continued financing and support.

Daw Aye Thinzar Maung, an executive committee member of the MFPD and chairperson of its education committee, also received a recognition award.

She advocates for the rights of those with disabilities, and has taken a leading role in campaigning for the Ministry of Education to reform its university admission procedures to make it easier for people with disabilities to enter higher education.

The Karen Women Organisation earned a recognition award for its work relating to gender equality, indigenous people’s rights, and women’s participation in the peace process. Its activities include training for young women on leadership and domestic violence laws.

Naw Hser Hser and Naw Wah Ku Shee accepted the award on behalf of the KWO.

Winners of the 2017 awards attended the event, together with diplomats from Norway and Canada and other invited guests.

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