‘If the herd of cows splits up, the tiger can eat them’: civil society and social justice in Myanmar
On 10 July DLP Research Fellow Gillian Fletcher brought together a panel of civil society actors from across Myanmar for the 2015 Australian Myanmar Institute Conference. They discussed how to use a diversity and values framework to promote equality and social justice.
The session took as its title a local expression about the need to cooperate: ‘If the herd of cows splits up, the tiger can eat them’. The session’s premise was based on work Gillian has been doing with local NGO Paung Ku which is leading on work to strengthen civil society across Myanmar and helping a wide range of organisations build mutual support networks.
The panellists argued that attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Myanmar requires the protection and promotion of all forms of diversity, including religious and gender diversity. They talked about the challenges they face, such as widespread tolerance of gender-based violence and discrimination against religious and ethnic minority communities. However, Myanmar’s civil society networks are pioneering the use of a diversity and values-based framework to shift deeply entrenched thinking based in notions of ‘them’ and ‘us’.
The members of the panel were: Saya Aung Thant (Program Manager at Paung Ku); Pwint Phyu Latt and Thint Myat Lo Thu Myar (from the Mandalay Interfaith Organisation); Wint War Yu (of Dawei Human Rights Watch); and Myint Aung (of Ethnic Nationalities for Peace).
Image: Herding cows, Thit Hla Kyin village (Slow Life Foundation, Flickr)