Association of Myanmar Disabled Women | ActionAid UK

Thinzar Maung was 14 when she was diagnosed with a disease that would eventually make her blind. Now in her thirties, she works as a trainer with the Association of Myanmar Disabled Women’s Affairs (AMDWA), helping other women to fight back against the discrimination she’s faced ever since.

She told us that disabled women are especially vulnerable to violence in her country, often harassed in the street or groped by the conductors when they try to board buses. She says the police often ignore violence against women who are disabled because of their low social status. They face double discrimination both for being women, and for being disabled.

Through her work with AMDWA, Thinzar Maung has helped disabled women in Myanmar to know their rights, and encouraged them to speak up and participate in public life. The organisation puts women in touch with legal services and trains them on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

I really want to meet with other disabled women because often they feel very powerless. So I really want to help them to speak up and speak their feelings.

Thinzar Maung

Tawng Mai Nkhum

Tawng Mai Nkhum, above, feels the same. Relying on a wheelchair to get around since a young age, she’s experienced a lot of discrimination herself. She told us how, in 2014, a taxi driver left her at the side of the road halfway through a journey. He told her that disabled people are unlucky – a belief that she says is held by many in Myanmar.

She started volunteering for AMDWA after seeing an advert on TV, and immediately wanted to help: ‘I wanted to show that disabled people have rights too, but I didn’t know how.’

Thinzar Maung

Without organisations like ours, it is very difficult for disabled women to get help.

Thinzar Maung

 
 
 

Tawng Mai told us: ‘The world is created with many different beautiful things. Like with flowers – there’s not just one kind of flower, but many different kinds with different colours. Disabled people are also humans helping to create a beautiful world. They also have rights. So to make the world beautiful we need all different kinds of people, including disabled people.’

AMDWA is the only organisation in Myanmar dedicated to the rights of disabled women. The difference they make is vital – Thinzar Maung says ‘without organisations like ours, it is very difficult for disabled women to get help.’

Tawng Mai Nkhum

I wanted to show that disabled people have rights too, but I didn’t know how.

Tawng Mai Nkhum

 
 
 
World

In 2015, 200 countries committed to ending violence against women by 2030

AMDWA has trouble getting enough funding to survive. Their income recently dropped after their founder went abroad, and as a result the organisation is currently inactive – leaving no dedicated organisations in Myanmar working for disabled women.

This lack of funding is the case for women’s rights organisations all over the world. That’s especially distressing, given that these organisations were found to be the most effective way of ending violence against women.

In 2015 200 countries signed up to a goal on ending violence against women by 2030. Supporting independent women’s rights organisations like AMDWA would help them make this a reality. Yet these organisations are chronically underfunded.

We’re standing with women like Thinzar Maung and Tawng Mai. Join our campaign today.

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Footnotes

Page updated 19 October 2017