Women in Southeast Asia have a more favorable position compared to East or South Asia. A daughter in the ASEAN region is not a burden to the family financially due to the practice of bride dowries and their kinship is almost equal in paternal and maternal lines.

Southeast Asian women are able to gain vocational skills and they have easier access to higher education. Post-graduate training for women, except for Laos and Cambodia, is higher. There are more female graduates in the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as in Indonesia and vietnam.

yingluk Shinawatra“I will repeat again that females are the symbols of nonviolence…Another thing I would say is that a female is more compromising. A female can talk with anyone easily.”

– yingluk Shinawatra, the first female and concurrent Thai Prime Minister, answering the people critical of her stand on femininity. She is still inexperienced in politics but her sincerity to serve the people has placed her in the position where she is right now.

Aung San Suu Kyi“The value systems of those with access to power and of those far removed from such access cannot be the same. The viewpoint of the  privileged is unlike that of the underprivileged.”

– Human rights advocate and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar (Burma)

Megawati Sukarnoputri“I want to encourage our people, to educate our people to have the courage to understand and fight for their rights.”

– Former Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, affirming how she wanted her people to be aware of their rights.

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago“There’s nothing wrong with my brain, contrary to the impression of my enemies.”

– Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, a brave, courageous, highly-intelligent and outspoken senator from the Philippines. She is a staunch advocate of good governance. She is witty, famous for her funny “pickup lines” yet possesses a very sharp tongue. The above quote is just one of her witty remarks directed to her enemies. She is on her third term of office as a senator and is a judge of the International Criminal Court.

Mu Sochua“I have mobilized women to work for women and by women. The global network of women gains a lot of support from the international community. We work to help women and our society to be free of poverty… my heart is always with Cambodian women. I could see women being trafficked in sex industry; women being discriminated; women with HIV/AIDS. They are living in a difficult situation… Women are precious gems… think women have the ability to hold such a high position. But they just don’t have the opportunity. Some are even more efficient than men.”

– Mu Sochua, a human rights advocate from Cambodia, during a May 21, 2007 interview. She is the founder of Khemara, a women’s organization in Cambodia.

These five women of strength from Southeast Asia have been using their intellect and courage for people to realize their rights and fight for it.


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