I first met Htar Htar, the Founder of Akhaya Women, at a workshop teaching health workers to be aware of gender issues and understand the impact of gender inequality on women’s health in Myanmar. I was extremely impressed. She is an amazing speaker, unafraid of tackling highly taboo subjects in Myanmar such sex, sexuality and violence against women. Little did I know that we would eventually be making jewellery together!
Akhaya Women is a local initiative, led by and for women. They provide the tools and support necessary for women in Myanmar to challenge gender stereotypes. Akhaya Women is based on a model of strengthening women’s self-confidence in the context of small women’s support groups. This enables women to enjoy their rights to engage in the broader social environment with self-awareness, and new knowledge.
These are values very much supported by Mia Ruby, which is a women led and operated local business that believes Myanmar women need to be supported to challenge the gender norms that restrict their lives.
So I was really excited when I learnt that Akhaya Women were starting a new initiative, She Smith, to teach Myanmar women to become silver (and eventually gold) smiths. This is a trade that has really only ever been undertaken by men in Myanmar. Traditionally gemstones were considered to possess religious power and said to bring good luck. Women, considered spiritually inferior to men, were not supposed to handle the stones. While women were allowed to work as an assistant or carry out basic silver and gold making duties, this belief banned them from being full skilled silver and gold smiths able to produce jewellerythemselves. Akhaya’s started She Smith to challenge this belief as part of the wider fight for gender equality as well as providing economic opportunities for poor women.
Mia Ruby has now been working with Akhaya Women to make our own designs since the beginning of our business in October 2016. These beautiful, bohemian style sterling silver rings with sapphires and spinel have been very popular with our customers.
I am excited to announce that we are now also selling Akhaya Women’s own sterling silver line called 925, designed by Htar Htar herself. These beautiful sterling silver earrings are both elegant and fun, and a great choice if gems are not so much your thing. They also make excellent presents, Christmas is not that far away!
Come into our store and check them out yourself. Mia Ruby is located in downtown Yangon at 79 Pansodan St, next to Rangoon Tea House and underneath Hla Day Craft and Design. We are open 7 days a week, 9.30 am – 5.30pm.