Help put girls at the forefront of change in Burma

 
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Jun 6, 2013

Interview with Girl Determined Research Associate

Buddhist Nuns in our Program take the lead
Buddhist Nuns in our Program take the lead

Warm gratitude for all of your ongoing support.  The school year is just starting up again here in Burma.  Because of the success of our past activites, local leadership and school teachers have asked for our girl-specific leadership programs in their communities. 

In the 2013-2014 school year we will be reaching 1300 girls aged 12-16 on a weekly basis through our structured, two-year leadership develop programs Colorful Girls Circle.

In light of our growth, I asked our Research Assosiate, who has been with Girl Determined for two years, to reflect on the impacts of our work.   Please check out what she has to say (below) or at http://www.girldetermined.org/Girl_Determined/News/Entries/2013/6/5_Interview_with_our_Research_Associate.html.

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Warmest regards from a very rainy Rangoon,

brooke

Now you have been working as a research in Girl Determined for almost two years, what are your thoughts about our work, the girls lives and the needs of girls in Burma/Myanmar?

 Because we rarely see women leaders in our society, girls just simply think that taking the lead or making decisions is not for them.  But Girl Determined allows girls to see a different possible reality and also to practice leadership.  Most girls don’t have the opportunity to think critically and through our activities girls must understand different types of problems and propose or even act on ways to solve them.  For example, at camp, the girls had to come up with examples in real life where conflict led to positive and negative outcomes.  They came up with the examples of the candle campaign and the Letpadaung coppermine protest.  They saw that the candle campaign led to more electricity but the for the copper mine project, the conflict continues and the people still don’t have their land back.  We simply can’t find these types of activities for girls of their age in our country. 

Many of the girls are similarly improving.  All of the girls come to Girl Determined without any past experience of sharing their feelings, group discussion and making presentations or speaking in front of others. Within one month, they get really into it and become eager to engage.  Most girls want to lead the opening ritual and make the opening statements.  They trust one another to talk about problems at school and at home or in their living place.  I am worried about some girls and the reality that they might have to quit school and take on the responsibility of supporting their families.  I also like that through our programs girls learn to empathize with on another.  They become aware of the shared issues that girls face and become empathetic and not judgmental. 

In Burma/Myanmar we are the only organization working just for the rights of girls and as far as I know there are really no organizations with specific programs designed especially to meet the girls needs or promote their rights.  Girls need different program than boys because what they are facing is different and how they are looked upon by society is different, but no other organization is addressing this. 

How will you know that Girl Determined’s programs are successful?  How will the community or country be different?

If Girl Determined is successful, in 10 years, we will likely see that our Colorful Girls will be active in social and humanitarian affairs.  They will take leadership at their community level.  They will consider social problems and be able to use their diplomacy, and negotiation skills to address these issues.  Through Girl Determined they have learned these skills and also have got the motivation for that type of work.  Realistically, this is what we can expect.  In terms of changing the gender roles norms at the household level, they may not be able to change their family’s ideas, but they can decide how they want to live based on their choices.  At the least, they will be confident advisors and mediators for their families. 

What suggestions do you have for improving the impacts of Girl Determined’s work?

I would like CG to create more awareness campaigns in the community so that people will know the true value of the girls.  And, girls will get to meet with local authorities and people in the community will know of their good work. 

I think we need all the staff to meet together more frequently.  Also, the staff should use some of their time to discuss the different issues facing the girls.  During meetings, in addition to discussing the nuts and bolts of the curriculum, we should talk about the girls and our understanding of the girls’ lives. 

Girls work in their circle on peer communication
Girls work in their circle on peer communication

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Project Leader

Brooke Z

santa rosa, CA United States

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