May Sabe Phyu

The Trailblazer Award | 10/31/2017

Myanmar’s May Sabe Phyu is a civil society activist in Kachin state, which is still a holdout in agreeing to the end to hostilities and engaging in the Panglong peace process.

May Sabe Phyu is the Director of the Gender Equality Network, a coalition of more than 120 organizations across Myanmar fighting for women’s rights. She began her career as a social worker and humanitarian worker for people living with HIV/AIDs, but considered it as her duty to serve her community in broader ways. Seeing rising conflict in her native Kachin state, she co-founded the Kachin Peace Network and the Kachin Women Peace Network to help build trust between civil society groups and advocate for peace in the region. Phyu Phyu has also been integral to the development of Myanmar’s National Strategic Plan for the Advancement of Women, and the country’s first law on violence against women. Recognizing that women’s equality is tied to other forms of discrimination and violence, Phyu Phyu also advocates for the rights of other marginalized groups, like internally displaced persons, and ethnic and religious minorities. Despite facing criminal charges, fines, harassment and even death threats for her work, she continues to fight for peace, equality, and justice.

For her courage and commitment to inclusive peacebuilding, and tireless work to advance women’s equality in the face of violent opposition, Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace & Security was proud to present the 2017 Global Trailblazer Award to May Sabe Phyu.