Who are these girls? As I’ve prepared for my time teaching yoga, I’ve asked questions not only about the history of Burma, but more specifically the history of women and girls in Burma. Part of our mission in teaching yoga is to empower them to be strong, confident, and aware of their bodies and voice. Aware of their ability to choose.
Labor and sex trafficking is global problem in many countries, but it is especially prevalent in the countries I plan to visit: Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. In seeking answers to my questions, I found Girl Determined whose mission is to educate adolescent girls about their opportunities to grow their access to education, health knowledge, participation in decision-making and personal development. The goal is to enable the girls living in Myanmar with skills and information to give them a chance to advocate for change on issues that directly affect them.
I was surprised when I read on their website, “Ask just about any teenage girl in Yangon, Myanmar’s commercial capital and she will tell you that she would rather have been born a boy.” Why is this?
“Myanmar’s moment is now. Myanmar is a microcosm of the world’s most pressing issues facing girls and women. Crises of environment, urban stress, religious strife, and gender-based discrimination have inspired radical responses in how to empower girls who must contend with the obstacles to leading fulfilling lives.” What’s interesting is this could be said of many developing countries, and it could be said of boys as well as girls, but this is about the girls since I will be in the all female monastery with them.
Girl Determined brings together adolescent girls from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds. At the core of Girl Determined programs are the Circles, which are weekly, structured, after school peer groups that span two academic years. About half way through the first year girls are proud of being a girl.”
How can Marni, Wendy, Carly and I replicate some of these teachings, through the broadest definition of yoga, for the girls and women we will meet in the monastery? That is one of my goals in teaching these beautiful girls and women of the Buddhist monastery, as I learn who they are.
[Novice Buddhist nuns wave as a cavalcade of Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi drives past on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, April 1, 2012. Myanmar held a landmark election Sunday that was expected to send Suu Kyi into parliament for her first public office since launching her decades-long struggle against the military-dominated government. (AP Photo)]