Alumna Ja Nan Lahtaw ’93/G’95 was recognized by the European Union in April 2017, one of three initial recipients of the Schuman Award. Chosen by representatives of EU member states from a list of Myanmarese activists and community leaders, Lahtaw received the award in recognition for her promotion of peace and gender equality in Myanmar.
Previously featured in Cairn’s Summer/Fall 2015 issue, Lahtaw serves as director of the Nyein (Shalom) Foundation, an NGO devoted to promoting peace and development among Myanmar’s diverse ethnic and religious groups. She is also one of the few female advisors to the armed ethnic groups seeking mutually agreeable terms of peace with Myanmar’s government.
In addition to decades of violence between the government and armed insurgent groups, Myanmar’s government has been criticized by the UN and others for violations of democracy and human rights—including recent military operations targeting the Muslim Rohinga minority, which the UN’s human rights chief has declared “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” Lahtaw told national newspaper The Irrawaddy that receiving the Schuman Award “has given me strength to move forward with the work I am doing, despite all the challenges that lie ahead.”