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Suu Kyi recognized as ‘Voice of the Decade’

(Mizzima) – Despite spending a majority of the past decade under house arrest, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was recognized as the Voice of the Decade on Tuesday by a Washington D.C.-based organization working for the global empowerment of women.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been recognized as the 'Voice of the Decade' by a Washington D.C.-based organization working for the global empowerment of women. Photo : MizzimaDuring the 10th annual global leadership awards ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, Vital Voices Global Partnership honoured Suu Kyi with their Global Trailblazer Award as Voice of the Decade.

The Global Partnership springs from the earlier Vital Voices Democracy Initiative, a 1997 undertaking spearheaded by then-first lady Hillary Clinton and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The latter met with Aung San Suu Kyi in 1995 immediately after attending the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.

'Now, on this night, we honour Aung San Suu Kyi, a woman who endured years of isolation from her family and the world with unfaltering grace and the strength of steel', said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 'I call again for the Burmese authorities to allow her and her party to participate in Burma’s political process and that they be granted freedom of movement, expression and assembly'.

Vital Voices initiatives focus on ensuring human rights, political participation and the economic empowerment of women around the world.

Though the Burmese honoree was not in attendance in Washington, those at the banquet heard a taped message sent by Aung San Suu Kyi for the occasion. 

Regarding Asia, Vital Voices finds that gender-based discrimination remains pervasive throughout the region despite legislative gains.

According to the organization’s website, 'Women can and must play a key role in the political, economic and social progress of Asia. We support emerging and established Asian women leaders to bring their voices to the table and promote positive change throughout the region'.

While women hold 18.5 percent of parliamentary seats throughout Asia, Burma comes in well below the regional average

Burma’s recently convened Parliament comprises 20 women, or just over three percent of the total elected parliamentarians. Additionally, none of the more than 30 appointed ministerial heads is female.

Vital Voices said that improved job opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region for women would result in annual gains of US $42 to 47 billion to the regional economy.

Three years ago Vital Voices honoured all women of Burma with their Human Rights Global Leadership Award, in recognition of female political activists in Burma.

Vital Voices is supported by the U.S. government, European Union, United Nations, World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank, among other governments and organizations.

Last Updated ( Monday, 18 April 2011 09:15 )  
The Kachin’s last stand
Since October this year, Burma has been in a state of civil war, with fighting between Burmese military and armed ethnic rebels. The ruling junta started a crackdown on these armed groups.

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