Freedom to lead: narrative and advocacy among Burmese women refugees on the Thai/Burma border
Conway-Herron, J 2011, 'Freedom to lead: narrative and advocacy among Burmese women refugees on the Thai/Burma border', Text, vol. 12, Special issue.
The role narrative plays in leading people out of subjection into a life where they can exercise their human rights freely is often unseen. In November 2010, I travelled for the fourth time to the Thai/Burma Border to lead creative writing workshops with Burmese women refugees. Narrative and advocacy are closely aligned to the kind of capacity building on human rights that addresses the human resources and strategic needs of Burmese organizations and supports them to establish a free and democratic Burma. The workshops I run are designed to assist refugee women to write about their experiences under the military junta. The stories are then published in anthologies that are distributed internationally, making the power of story central to the role that advocacy plays in preparing new leaders for a democratic future in Burma. Facilitating the writing of these refugee women is advocacy in action, a process where the gap between writing about a situation and the experience of activism itself is diminished. In writing about their experiences these women express a distinct identity, one that has the potential to play a huge part in the future restoration of a genuine democracy in their country.