Publication Date

2005

Abstract

After completing a full-time practicum with the Women's League of Burma (WLB) and the Shan Women's Action Network (SWAN), I accompanied their delegation to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women's 49th Session, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in March 2005. It was during this conference that I had the opportunity to answer my research questions: How does the WLB attempt to achieve positive change for women from Burma through international advocacy? In particular, how does the WLB communicate their complex issues? Through participant observation, interviews, and document analysis, I learned both what and how the Women's League of Burma representatives convey the dire situation of the women of Burma and what they ask of the United Nations member governments and agencies, donors, other NGOs, neighboring countries, and like-minded governments. The women represent many different ethnic groups and have different experiences and both the same and different obstacles to confront, but by working together they have shown strength in unity while highlighting their diversity. WLB has successfully transcended traditional advocacy barriers to unite their grassroots work with international advocacy. They have a clear understanding and excellent documentation of the issues and their root causes, and causal links between the local situation, national policy and international actors. WLB and its member organizations struggle to overcome a lack of access to education, health care, social services, safety and security, and political space. But they are a shining example of marginalized indigenous refugee and migrant women who are attempting to create a peaceful society using international advocacy.

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