On Tuesday evening, Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi spoke, via video, to guests at the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Global Women’s Rights Awards. Suu Kyi was given the Eleanor Roosevelt award for her tireless work for democracy and human rights in Burma, her home country. In her acceptance, the pro-democracy icon, who was released from 15 years of house arrest in November, seemed at first almost somber as she spoke. The audience was silent, transfixed, but suddenly Suu Kyi laughed, saying,
I believe women play the more important part in our world because not only are they entering the professional world, they still remain the pillars of their homes and families. So I hope the menfolk in this audience will forgive me for speaking in favor of women–for speaking out in favor of women–because I think only a woman can understand the troubles, the problems, the discrimination that other women have to face.
So, from this day onwards, until all the people in the world, particularly all the women in the world, are able to achieve their full potential, I hope we will be able to work together closely and in the true spirit of sisterhood.
The other awardees were Yolette Jeanty, passionate Haitian feminist and leader of one of the country’s most powerful women’s rights organizations, Kay Fanm; Sunita Viswanath, founder of Women for Afghan Women, which has opened domestic violence shelters for abused women in Afghanistan; and NPR Morning Edition host Renee Montagne, whose efforts to tell stories of Afghan women’s struggles and triumphs have helped to secure them a place in the international conversation.