The Women of Myanmar: ‘Our Place Is in the Revolution’


Across Myanmar, women protesters have lined the streets with vibrant traditional women’s clothing and undergarments in the hope of challenging a long-held taboo around women’s clothing. Women are also using their sarongs to create flags and hats for men to parade alongside banners that read “our victory, our htaimein” to celebrate wielding a degrading superstition about women as a successful defense strategy.

“Htaimein—Burmese for sarongs and intimate women’s wear—are perceived as ‘unclean’ in traditional Buddhist belief and thus considered inferior in Burmese society,” explains 25-year-old Su, an activist and university student who does not wish to give her full name for fear of reprisals.

By weaponizing these displays of “profanity,” women say they are reclaiming their status against the same patriarchal attitudes that perceive them as lesser in society.

The Women’s League of Burma, an organization which seeks to increase women’s participation in public life in Myanmar, estimates that 60 percent of those protesting are women, while the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners says women make up almost 40 percent of those arrested.

Protests have erupted around the country since the military seized control of the government after arresting democratic leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on February 1, and declared a year-long state of emergency.

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