With our ride for women’s rights, we hope to raise as much awareness as possible for women’s rights: R4WR (Ride 4 Women’s Rights)

Four women of R4WR (Ride 4 Women’s Rights) foundation from the Netherlands on bike during their journey in Thailand before entering Myanmar. —Photo: R4WR
Four women of R4WR (Ride 4 Women’s Rights) foundation from the Netherlands on bike during their journey in Thailand before entering Myanmar. —Photo: R4WR

R4WR (Ride 4 Women’s Rights) from the Netherlands has raised awareness for women’s rights worldwide and the four women of the foundation have been on the road now for about five months as part of their 400-day journey of 14,000 km from Jakarta to Amsterdam. During their journey, they visit local women’s projects and collect stories of inspiring women.
They started last September and cycled through Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, southern Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, northern Thailand and are now cycling in Myanmar for three weeks. On 2 February they entered Myanmar via Mae Sot on the border with Thailand. They will leave Myanmar on 28 February after crossing the country on their bikes.
The Global New Light of Myanmar talked to Carlijn Bettink, 24, founder of R4WR, in
Yangon recently.
GNLM: What is the main goal of your foundation?
Bettink: The main goal of our foundation is to raise awareness for women’s rights and we do this by cycling on two tandem bikes from Jakarta back to Amsterdam.
GNLM: Why did you choose this route which passes through Myanmar?
Bettink: We are now five months on the road and cycled through Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, south Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, the northern part of Thailand and now in Myanmar. All of us are big fans of Asia, one of the reasons we choose this particular route. We were interested to find out more about women’s rights in the different countries and because we cycle we visit places outside the touristic areas.
GNLM: Who did you talk to in Myanmar and what did you discuss with them?
Bettink: During this ride we visit local women empowerment projects and collect stories of all sorts of women.
We had two project visits in Myanmar of the organization CARE. The first one took place in Mon and we visited the CARE office where we had a table conversation with several women who are infected with HIV.
The second project visit was in Yangon where we met with the founder Ma Thu Zar Win of the SWiM network, which stands for Sex Worker in Myanmar Network. The network’s mission is to promote the access to information, knowledge, capacity, rights and empowerment of female sex workers and to reduce discrimination and stigmatization.
Besides these project visits, we also talk with women in Myanmar and share their personal stories with our followers. For instance we talked with Wai Wai Nu, a woman who was a political prisoner but is now fighting for peace and the rights of women. She told us her story and the work she does for her beliefs was very inspiring to hear. These kind of stories need to be told and that is why we share this with our followers.
GNLM: What is your impression of women’s rights in Myanmar?
Bettink: We were very excited to visit Myanmar because it has only recently opened its borders for foreigners. In the conversation we had with Wai Wai Nu, we understood there are still many acts and laws which restrict women’s rights. She formed the Women’s Peace Network with which she, among other things, campaigns for women’s rights in Myanmar. We noticed that here in Myanmar are a lot of initiatives going on from women to fight for women’s rights and help others by sharing their own
Furthermore, we really like to travel and explore Myanmar. The friendliness of the people we come across is unique and we have never eaten such a good tomato salad as here.

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