Aung San Suu Kui
Keynote Address at the Beijing World Conference on
Speakers Context
• Aung San Suu Kyi is an activist for democracy
and the leader of the National League for
Democracy in Burma.
• Globally known as a political activist, being
awarded several prizes including the Nobel
Peace Prize.
• Has been under house arrest several times.
Context of Speech
• Speech delivered on 31 August 1995.
• The military had re-established control over Burma
• Aung was elected into government (1990).
• The political party in power (SLORC) was corrupt
and refused to hand Aung power, placing her
under house arrest.
• The speech was delivered via video.
Political Context
• Suu Kyi’s message as a call to nonviolent actions
of democracy contrasts the violent actions of the
present military government of Burma.
• Influence of Buddhism in Suu Kyi’s politics –
believes the idea of mutual forgiveness in
Buddhism is central to Democracy.
• Aung’s arrest displayed the military governments
capacity to crush any form of resistance by
extreme force.
Theme: Justice
Central Values/Ideas
Intolerance and insecurity are two sides of the same coin, and prejudice and
intolerance are shackles. ‘without tolerance, the foundations for democracy and
respect for human rights cannot be strengthened, and the achievements of peace will
remain exclusive’
She presents tolerance as the fundamental concept needed to establish democracy,
peace and equal human rights.
The speech conveys that tolerance isn’t simply the absence of intolerance and
insecurity but also incorporates the need to ‘understand the point of views of others’
Attempted to use speech to inspire hope that change is possible through non violent
protest within Burma
Raised awareness for the continued suffering of the beloved Burmese.
Women shouldn’t just be tolerated but valued for their contribution to the world
Theme: Freedom
Central Values/Ideas
Women do not start wars but they and children do more suffering as a result of them.
“No war was ever started by women” “ But it is women and children who have always
suffered most in situations of conflict,”
Women play a large role in helping to achieve ‘a peaceful life for all’ within the global
Focus on the role of women in society, government and politics towards the
inspiration to ‘struggle for justice and peace’ in the world
Global forces mentioned included approaches to governance, such as questions of
citizenship and political participation, as well as looking at obstacles to peace and
human security such as militarization, violence and poverty
Her aim is to encourage and inspire women of the world to use their talents and
feminine qualities for peace and political dialogue. She does not necessarily support
feminist ideologies, but seeks to make more diverse notions of gender
Theme: Equality
Central Values/Ideas
Diversity is Good (‘splendid’). “I want to try and voice some of the common hopes which firmly
unite us in our splendid diversity”
By understanding the differences between people (race, religion, gender) many of the atrocities in
the world including war and the discrimination present in her country could be prevented.
In order for the world to truly appreciate the role of women, they need to be given a political
platform and a role in government to ‘participate fully In the decisions and processes that shape
their lives’
She exemplifies the discrimination that women suffer, the limited freedom they have across the
world and how they are continuously being persecuted for their gender.
Speech carried with it the international purpose of campaigning for the liberation of women,
motivating women to achieve their full potential and unifying females throughout the world in the
fight for equality
Explains that there needs to be a larger balance between men and women, due to the women’s
nature of peacemakers. There needs to be more of a balance of power b/n men and women. “No
war was ever started by women”
Theme: Unity
Central Values/Ideas
Humanity is one community and modern means of communication can bring us together. “I might
wish to concentrate on those matters which occupy all my waking thoughts these days: peace,
security, human rights and democracy.”
The qualities ‘imposed on’ women enable them to play an important role in inciting political and
social change, provoking progress and helping to ‘dissipate the darkness of intolerance… and
Women, as ‘intelligent human beings’ who have performed highly ‘in our educational system and
the management of commercial enterprises ’can ‘contribute to the betterment of society’ by
playing a greater role in business and in government
To liberate women around the world and help them to realise and fulfil their role in society as
peacekeeper and peacemaker.
Theme: Woman Rights
Central Values/Ideas
Women are more caring and tolerant than men. “The education and empowerment of women
throughout the world cannot fail to result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful life for all.”
She strongly believes that this role should be centred on their traditional, biological qualities and
their dedication to the ‘nurturing, protecting and caring for the young and old’
Traditionally given the ‘responsibility of teaching children values that will guide them throughout
their lives’ women have a privileged role as teachers and educators of tomorrow’s generation.
Women are good communicators allowing them to solve ‘situations of conflict’ and deliver peace
by non violent means.
Addressed issues which took on global significance and also targeted her domestic audience
Did this by criticising the government’s failure to end their oppressive tactics used to maintain
Criticised the government for denying that ‘women too can play a part in bringing the necessary
change and progress to their society’
To present an analytical overview of the global forces affecting the quality of life of the human
community and the challenges these pose for everyone and for women in particular
Structure - Introduction
• Appeals to ethos and pathos as her social
standing is established and she makes
reference to personal emotions.
• Establishes her audience as the majority of
• Addresses the subject of her speech.
Structure - Arguments
• Paragraph 2 directly addresses how Aung is
perceived by the audience, (ethos), as she
explains the deliverance of the speech through
video and incorporates personal experience to
develop audience perspective.
• Paragraph 3 further elaborates upon ethos as her
power in regard to social standing or political role
is revealed.
• Establishes context surrounding women within
Structure - Arguments
• Kairos is addressed as the presentation of the
speech takes place via video, incorporating the
contextual circumstances of military
government at the time.
• Reference to United Nations and the role of
Democracy to express political knowledge.
• Direct references to Burmese people to appeal
to specific audiences (paragraph 6 & 7).
Structure - Arguments
• Addresses the role of women within society and the
need for recognition of all they do by offering equal
opportunity within their country (paragraph 9).
• Personal context is explored in paragraph 11
onwards, addressing women in relation to own
• Direct reference to religious influences by
incorporating Buddhism in juxtaposition to the
outcomes Aung aims to achieve for women.
Structure - Conclusion
• Inclusive language draws the speech to a close
and provides a personal address to what Aung
hopes to have achieved as a result of its
Rhetorical Devices
Rhetorical Devices
Rhetorical Devices
Rhetorical Devices
Links to Other Speeches
• Aung San Suu Kyi keynote address to the being conference on
women, is an inspirational speech to all women around the
world, like many of the epideictic speeches set for study, she
addresses the justices, freedoms, equalities and inequalities of
individuals around the world.
• Within Kyi speech there is special attention drawn to the values
of women’s rights, equality and unity. These values referenced
within Kyi speech correspond exactly with those discussed within
Margaret Attwood’ “Spotty Handed Villainess’.
• Likewise both speeches in some way or form comment on the
identify of women, their positive contributions and the position
as women within social, cultural and historical contexts.
Critical Commentary
Aung San Suu Kyi’s empowering speech has impacted all women around the
world as Aung speaks up about the oppression of women and their wrong
inequality to men. Exclaiming the fact woman have done great things, that
“women with their capacity for compassion and self-sacrifice, courage and
perseverance, have done much to dissipate the darkness of intolerance and hate,
suffering and despair.”