Diakonia - People change the world
Aung Nyi Nyi is a volunteer working against gender-based violence. He finds that many are eager to listen to him.W

“I want everyone to learn about the violence”

Gender-based violence is a big problem in Myanmar. Some say it’s because there has been a culture of violence during all those years under the military regime. “Most people think that men are superior and have right to beat their wives and children. Neither men nor women are aware that this is a kind of violence”, says Aung Nyi Nyi Htwe.

Our partner organization Thingaha is training volunteers to spread knowledge about gender in their own communities. The aim is that the new knowledge will help to change people’s behaviour. Aung Nyi Nyi Htwe is one of the change-makers.

The occurrence of gender-based violence is high

He is living in an industrial zone on the outskirts of Yangon. People in the area are generally poor, trying to survive from day to day. The occurrence of gender-based violence is high, especially domestic violence and child rapes, but no one wants to acknowledge it. Through awareness training in the area Aung Nyi Nyi Htwe has learnt about gender-based violence, gender discrimination, human rights, women rights, sex and gender, gender needs, laws related to gender-based violence. He has also learnt some facilitation skills and training tools. Now he is confident enough to stand in front of others and discuss.

Organises gender awareness training

“I want to raise awareness amongst the most vulnerable people, so they can change their attitude. I also think it’s important to work together with the local authorities and the police.”

Aung Nyi Nyi Htwe takes part in a group that meet twice a month. Together they organise gender awareness training, and whenever they hear about a case of gender-based violence they call the police and ask them to open the case.

In December last year, the group arranged a 16 Days of Activism Campaign in collaboration with other networks in the area of South Dagon. Parliamentarians, government authorities, networks and community people all took part in the campaign. 

"We expected around 100 participants, but to our surprise 180 people took part in the campaign."

Things are changing around him

The campaign strengthened the group’s relations to the local authorities, and now they are allowed to use the ward’s building for the training.

“All my close friends recognize that I am doing a good work and they are eager to listen when I talk about gender.  Some of them also would like to attend Thingaha’s gender training.”

Things have even changed at home since Aung Nyi Nyi Htwe started his volunteer work.

“My two children are aware of the word gender now since I have introduced them to gender-related books. And there is no gender discrimination in my family as I’ve started to help my wife with the washing and cooking and I ask my son to help as much in the household as my daughter. Before I thought it was work supposed to be done by women“

Story told by Nang San Kham, programme officer in Myanmar/Burma.