Young Women

From June 17-18, twenty-five Southeast Asian researchers, human rights advocates, grassroots leaders, and activists came together for a conversation about the changing context in Southeast Asia and its impact on women, women’s rights and women’s activism.
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I got married at the height of the Cambodian peace rallies last year. During this time, the women’s groups in the peace rallies formed a volunteer paramedic team and I immediately joined. But, this decision became our first marital argument. But today my husband has realized why it is important to get involved. He just says, “Run very fast when police starts dispersing.”
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“As a Cambodian woman, everyday is a constant negotiation for me. After endless discussions, I was able to convince my mother to give me a chance to get a higher education. It almost seemed impossible, but I was able to do it,” says Chamnorng Som, member of the JASS-inspired organization CYWEN.
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Katswe Sistahood's Winnet Shamuyarira describes how Zimbabwean activists rose up for justice in this year's global One Billion Rising Campaign: "That day, we the women of Zimbabwe said we were tired of being abused, tired of taking things lying down and that we have the power, the numbers, and the voice to act on issues that are affecting us"
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Even with the government's crackdown on activists' plans to organize on International Women's Day, the young women of JASS-inspired network CYWEN plan to make their voices heard, and help advance the momentum for change that is looming on the horizon in Cambodia.
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“There’s an act of dfiance ien going onstage,” says Rudo Chigudu, “Because everything about our stories is private…. When young women get married they’re told, ‘Don’t air your dirty laundry in public,’ [yet] the woman next door knows you’ve been beaten because you ran down the street half naked. But you’re still supposed to pretend that it’s [violence] this very private thing and you’re supposed to contain it.
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I will never forget the day I decided to cut my hair. I remember taking my walk of courage to the beauty salon seven years ago. I walked in and the lady who usually braided my hair stood in shock when I said “Cut it all off, please!” It took months of deliberation to declare this statement. It was one of the most difficult but liberating decisions I had ever made for myself. I had spent too much time trying to achieve or maintain what I have to define as, ‘beauty markers’. I had had enough!
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Young women activists of FAMM-Indonesia stood side by side, wrists roped together, mouths taped, to express their vehement opposition to the proposed Ormas Bill, which obliges organizations to “uphold morality and ethics and nurture the country’s religious and cultural norms.”
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“I feel like I have choices. Like whether or not I want to bear children. Feminism has allowed me to think that there’s more than doing what you’re ‘supposed’ to do — you have a right to choose.”
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Barely five months into its formation, FAMM-Indonesia is already making waves. From text messaging blast campaigns against the discriminatory regulation of women's bodies to mobilizing dialogues and protests to amplify women's voices, FAMM is building young women's movements in Indonesia.
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