In the Aftermath of the Cyclone, Burmese Women's Groups Mobilize
Posted on: Tuesday, May 20, 2008
In the more than two weeks since Tropical Cyclone Nargis slammed the coast of Burma, the details of the devastation have continued to emerge. Reports show that, in the hard-hit Irrawaddy Delta, food crops such as rice have been destroyed, and people are facing a severe food shortage. The death toll has risen to 78,000 people, with 56,000 people still missing. Many communities have been destroyed and their way of life swept away by the storm.
MADRE, in partnership with the Women’s Human Rights Defenders Network and Burmese women’s organizations, is providing support to the urgently needed relief efforts. Our response will ensure that women and their families gain access to basic and necessary services and to psycho-social care.
While the efforts of many international aid agencies continue to be obstructed by the Burmese military government, MADRE is working directly with local women’s organizations on the ground. MADRE is therefore able to respond effectively and support women’s expertise as they face the long process of rebuilding.
Women and families in Burma are not only confronting the impact of the cyclone but also political oppression. The Burmese government is using the pretext of the disaster to continue intimidation of women’s rights activists, which has included arrests. These arrests are likely to continue as women protest the recent referendum vote results, which stated that over 90 percent of voters had approved the National Constitution. The referendum is widely viewed as a move to consolidate the rule of the military government.
MADRE supports the efforts of women’s groups in Burma seeking to overcome these obstacles and to ensure the health and well-being of women and families affected by this disaster.