Hillary Clinton Award | 02/05/2018
Wai Wai was among thousands of political prisoners detained by Myanmar’s former military regime. Following the sentencing of her father, an opposition MP, the then-18-year-old law student was sentenced to seventeen years in Insein Prison.
Wai Wai served seven years of her sentence, a period that she now refers to as her “University of Life.” Freed in 2012, at the age of 25, she quickly became an agent of change.
She earned her law degree at Yangon East University. She founded two NGOs: Women’s Peace Network-Arakan—an organization that conducts trainings around civic engagement in Rakhine State—and Justice for Women—a network of female lawyers offering legal aid to Burmese women. Through these organizations, Wai Wai aims to bolster peace-building efforts and empower Myanmar’s women and youth through legal counsel and rights education.
Wai Wai is Rohingya. Her viral #MyFriend campaign in 2015, urging social media users to share ‘selfies’ with their friends of diverse racial and religious backgrounds, solidified her reputation as a young human rights activist worldwide. She recently used her platform to persuade the United Nations to conduct a fact-finding mission in Myanmar—though she lobbied for a more intensive Commission of Inquiry—to investigate the persecution of her fellow Rohingya in Myanmar.