11/23/2021 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – An all-women militia has been formed in Myanmar’s Sagaing region in order to more effectively combat the Tatmadaw, the military junta that has been ruling Myanmar since the coup on February 1 of this year, which overthrew the democratically-elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The name of the militia is the Myaung Women Guerrilla Group (MWGG). The MWGG contains members as young as 16, such as Hera, who discontinued her secondary school studies to take a position as commander in the MWGG. Commenting on her decision to join, she said, “I shed tears whenever I see [the local civilians] in the refugee camps, and it motivates me to fight. I have no fear because I was willing to give up my life when I signed up to be in the group. I want to fight for democracy.”
Since the coup earlier this year, the Tatmadaw has killed 1,275 civilians, at least 80 of whom were women. Additionally, last week news surfaced that Tatmadaw soldiers raped several women in Chin State. As a result of this incident, many human rights groups have called out the junta’s use of “sexual violence [against women] as a weapon.” These incidents have prompted women to take action against the junta. One member of the MWGG, Amera, commented on the all-women militia’s formation, saying, “It is assumed that women’s hands are meant for rocking the cradle, but we want to show to the people that our hands are also capable of armed resistance to the military regime.” She further argued that “we face women face discrimination in many ways… we have come out to break down the barriers that limit the role of women in society.” Another member of the MWGG, Athena, said that she joined the forces to serve in place of her brother, who was killed in an explosion during a training drill. She said that her family members expressed concern about her decision, but that she “decided not to go home until democracy has been restored.”
The MWGG is not the first women’s group to protest and take action against the Tatmadaw. For instance, on September 6, the Women Allied Forces were formed. This was a women-led protest group consisting of members from Yangon, Mandalay, Monywa, and Sagaing. One member who led actions against the junta in Monywa said, “The situation [since the coup] has led us to demonstrate that women can do the same jobs as men. I think these resistance movements bring more equality and may help to eliminate discrimination in the future.” She further added that “it is extraordinary to see the women bravely fighting in the militia group. They have made their mark in the history of the resistance movement.”
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