Mon Activist Mi Kun Chan Non Wins Asian Women’s N- Peace Award

WCRP: Mon activist Mi Kun Chan Non won the N-Peace Award last Friday, July 25th, awarded by the multi-country N-Peace Network, for her work in advancing the rights of ethnic minority women in Burma. Mi Kun Chan Non will receive her award at N-Peace’s October 2014 award ceremony, to be held in Bangkok.

The N-Peace Award was awarded to five women’s rights activists by N-Peace, an organization which focuses on advancing Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) issues. Five women  were chosen to receive the award by the N-Peace Network, which counts more than 8,100 online votes to determine five winners from a candidate list of 37 women.

The Mon Women’s Organization (MWO) held an evening of celebration in honor of Mi Kun Chan Non’s accomplishment. At the event, Mi Kun Chan Non expressed her sincere gratitude.

“First of all, three thanks to [the] award provider, who trust my work, and those [who] voted for me, especially my parents,” said Mi Kun Chan Non, “My parents [were] my first teacher[s] who taught me since I was young. Because of them, I became an activist and work for the community, especially for women. As [an] ethnic woman, this award gives me opportunities and space for my work in the future for women. In our society and culture, women have limited [access] to participation in leadership and decision-making role[s], and it is similar in [the] national and international [context]. [Our] tradition believes that women are not born as leaders, but they are followers. We need to change this belief.”

During interviews, Mi Kun expressed how her award will allow her to further advocate for women in Burma.
“I am not sure what I will receive for this award. If I have money, I will use this fund for support stipends for Mon National School Teachers. I will save this money at [a] bank, and use the interest of the fund to provide for Mon National Education Committee teachers. All of the Mon National School Teachers have [a] lack of support for their teacher stipends, and they are taking duties [in] conflict-affected areas. They are working hard for the community, as they are the one[s] who preserve Mon literature and culture,” said Mi Kun Chan Non.

She continues that, “This award also recognize[s] minority women, and as I am a Mon ethnic, I should support women who are struggling and sacrificing their life for the community. My hope is [that] gender curriculum will be created and taught in Mon school[s], and in the future, Mon communities [will] have gender equality in every sector of leading and decision-making roles.”

Forty-eight year-old Mi Kun Chan Non, legally known as Mi Khin Khin Kyu, currently serves as director and deputy chairwoman of the MWO. Born in Ywalut Village, Chaungzone, Mon State to U Soe Myint Thein and Daw Tun Hlaing, Mi Kun graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Institute of Economics, Yangon in 1999.

Mi Kun has studied Grassroots Leadership Training and Educational Movement, completed a series of TOT training (SEM) in 2000, studied Business Correspondence in British Council, Yangon, in 2003, Development Study SEASOLINE in the Philippines, completed a Rural Social Leadership Development Course in 2004, and received a Masters in Development Study from the Kimmage Development Study Center in Dublin, Ireland.

The N-Peace Network was founded in 2010, and works to support women’s leadership in conflict prevention, conflict resolution, and peace building. The group is active in Nepal, Sri Lanka, East Timor, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Afghanistan.

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