Thirst for Knowledge Propels Girl to Join Village Development Group

Oct 11, 2016

Village development group allows Aye Palay Moe to continue learning Photo: Shobhna Decloitre/UNDP

Aye Palay Moe was devastated when she had to drop out of school at the age of 16. She had high hopes of studying at a university and bringing knowledge back to her village known as Aung, located in Myanmar’s Ayeyarwaddy Region.

While one door closed on Aye Palay Moe, she looked around for other windows of opportunity. She realized that there were informal ways in which she could gain knowledge and help develop her village.

She wanted to join a brigade of women she had often seen walking around her village, examining foot paths, drains and homes and talking to people. Soon after the same group could be seen repairing or building infrastructure in the village. She was inspired by these women and how they managed to change things, while at the same time looking after their families and working on farms.

“Who were these women, and why were they doing what were they doing,” Aye Palay Moe wondered? After talking to some of them she found that they belonged to a group that took the responsibility of developing its members and at the same time making improvements in the village. The women belonged to the Yaung Chi Oo Self Reliant Group, set up by the United Nations Development Programme to help empower rural women. There are over 5500 such groups around the country. They further regroup at the township level into 31 larger groups and converge at the national level in a body called May Doe Kabar, the Myanmar Rural Women’s Network.

“The day I turned 18, I joined the group, and I have learned so much since,” said 21-year-old Aye Palay Moe.

Upon joining the group, Aye Palay Mon had the opportunity to attend a number of trainings on a range of topics such as accounting, health and hygiene and agriculture, all geared towards improving rural women’s lives and encouraging entrepreneurship. The trainings were provided by members of neighboring self reliant groups.

“Whenever I hear about a training that is taking place I make it my business to attend. When I return to my village I share my knowledge with other village women.”

“I really want to learn as much as I can and share the knowledge so that our village women can develop themselves through business opportunities such as sewing or selling produce and become independent.”

Aye Palay Mon has also discovered the iWomen – Inspiring Women application, developed by May Doe Kabar and UNDP. The application has been co-designed by rural women and allows them to exchange experiences, learn about new things, get inspired and remain in touch.

Aye Palay Mon is confident that the application will be a new source of knowledge for her.