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Young women's leadership in conflict: Crossing borders in Myanmar
Umeå universitet, Samhällsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Statsvetenskapliga institutionen. (Freds och konfliktstudier)ORCID-id: 0000-0002-2400-9144
2020 (engelsk)Inngår i: Young women and leadership / [ed] Katrina Lee-Koo, Lesley Pruitt, Abingdon & New York: Routledge, 2020, s. 45-63Kapittel i bok, del av antologi (Fagfellevurdert)
Abstract [en]

Multiple armed conflicts in Myanmar have resulted in long-term, large-scale forced displacement, humanitarian crises, and immense human suffering. However, the borderlands of Myanmar’s neighboring countries have also provided political space for the mobilization of diverse forms of oppositional politics, ranging from armed resistance to human rights documentation, alternative news reporting on the situation in Myanmar, and international networking and lobbying. In particular, since the 1990s these borderlands, most notably the Thai-Myanmar border areas, have seen the emergence of a vibrant and outspoken multi-ethnic women’s movement.

In this chapter, we explore how young women activists from Myanmar have been able to carve out new spaces and forms of leadership while in exile in Thailand. From its inception, the border-based women’s movement made leadership training - specifically targeting young women - a key feature. We examine the impact of these training programs in the lives of women activists, and trace how graduates of these programs have moved on to lead in ways that have created social and political change within exiled oppositional politics and diaspora communities in Thailand. We analyze how the recent return of exiled activists and oppositional groups to Myanmar reshapes the conditions for young women’s leadership, presenting formerly exiled activists with new challenges as well as new avenues for leadership.

Our analysis illustrates the political potential of border-crossing in several senses. In a spatial sense, we demonstrate how the diasporic, transnational political space in Thailand enabled young women to challenge age and gender norms and hierarchies to a degree previously unimagined, making young women leaders a significant force in Burmese diasporic politics. We note the importance of international advocacy and transnational networking to the growing recognition of young women as effective leaders, understanding this as another form of border-crossing. However, with return to Myanmar the political space for young women’s leadership is (again) reconfigured; accordingly, the effectiveness of leadership strategies and styles established in exile are reconsidered. In a conceptual sense, our analysis illuminates how young women activists have moved across boundaries between public and private leadership and formal and informal leadership. We highlight how the strategic deployment of women’s reproductive duties in the private sphere have created opportunities for women’s participation in the public sphere, for example in refugee camps and ethnic minority armed organizations.  In the nationwide ceasefire process, women have combined informal advocacy through “tea break advocacy” (Pepper, 2018) with formal positions as leaders of women’s groups. We argue that in skillfully moving across these conceptual boundaries, young women activists’ affect social and political change. Situating border-crossing as a key feature of young women’s leadership in this context, we thus contribute to theorizing the character and impact of young women’s leadership.

sted, utgiver, år, opplag, sider
Abingdon & New York: Routledge, 2020. s. 45-63
Serie
Routledge Studiesin Gender and Global Politics
HSV kategori
Forskningsprogram
freds- och konfliktforskning
Identifikatorer
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-170075DOI: 10.4324/9780429261480ISBN: 9780429261480 (digital)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-170075DiVA, id: diva2:1426322
Ingår i projekt
Feminister, etno-nationalister och fredsaktivister? Vilken roll spelar kvinnoorganisationer i diasporan för fredsbyggande i Burma?, Swedish Research Council
Forskningsfinansiär
Swedish Research Council, 2015-01756Tilgjengelig fra: 2020-04-24 Laget: 2020-04-24 Sist oppdatert: 2020-04-27bibliografisk kontrollert

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