Open Letter by the Dutch Ambassador to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for International Women’s Day

Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Myanmar Wouter Jurgens. Photo:

Yesterday, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Myanmar, H.E. Wouter Jurgens, sent an open letter to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for International Women's Day. The following is the text in full.

“Dear State Counsellor  Daw Aung San Suu  Kyi,

Today the World unites in celebrating International Women’s Day. Today we take stock of what has been accomplished for the position of women and girls around the world. Thanks to the global outrage of the #metoo movement, more women have come forward to make sure that we take action against abuse. Equal pay for men and women is now firmly on the agenda. The SheDecides movement, started by the Netherlands’ minister Lilianne Ploumen to promote sexual and reproductive rights, has brought together 400 million USD to ensure that women from Amsterdam to Yangon, from Capetown to New Delhi are supported in deciding for themselves how and when they want to have children.

But more, much more needs to be done. This year’s theme ‘The Time is Now’ urges us to keep pushing, to be bold and unrelenting in promoting and advancing women’s rights. It appeals to our responsibility and morality to not trust that others will take action, but that we ourselves have a role to play.

The Time is Now to lead. You are still in a position to create change and to lead by example. For many years, you have set this example for women (and men) in Myanmar and across the world; you have shown what persistence and leadership can accomplish and the example you set encouraged following. Today, you have the power to enable women, in downtown Yangon, in the mountains of Kachin, in the Irrawaddy Delta, the hills of Chin State, in Rakhine and beyond the borders of Myanmar, to take their destiny into their own hands. To create a Myanmar in which they do no longer have to accept a different position in society than men, no longer need to be subjected to gender based violence as the household norm or impunity for rape as a weapon of war. As you lead, this country will follow.

The Time is Now to join hands. The Netherlands wants to be a partner to promote women’s rights in Myanmar. We are working with many local partners that advance the rights of women and through SheDecides as a global movement that has something to offer to Myanmar.

The Time is Now to be inspired. I was struck by a young woman photographer, Su Su Mon, who overcame many obstacles and took charge of her life. Last month she won the Yangon Photo Festival in the category ‘emerging photographer’. “I am capable” was her message to the world and she showed in her art what she can do if given the opportunity and rights. She shows to all that for Myanmar women, once protected, enabled and inspired, the possibilities may well be limitless. Please have a look, I am sure you will be inspired too.

Wouter Jurgens
Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Myanmar”

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