Ma Su Hlaing with her children in their house in Hsipaw, Myanmar: As a mother of two toddlers, Hsipaw resident Ma Su Hlaing has her hands full. But despite her long and tiring days, she occasionally takes out time to talk to community members about the risks related to unexploded ordnance and landmines. Two years ago, when Ma Su Hlaing was expecting her second baby and went into labour, her husband Kyaw Thet and his brother trekked to get some medicinal herbs from the nearby mountains. But the trip turned tragic when they stepped onto a mine and lost their lives. Left alone to take care of two young children, Ma Su Hlaing received some financial support from the ICRC to make ends meet. Today, like a few other members of the community in Shan state who work with the ICRC and Myanmar Red Cross Society to spread awareness about landmine-related risks, she warns about the dangers of making that trek to the mountains and advises people to be safe than sorry.

She inspires: Stories from the Asia-Pacific on International Women’s Day 2020

Essayist Anais Nin said, "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."

It is this fortitude that women like Ho Chanty and Momtaz, along with others whose stories we narrate in the following pages, embody. When not much was working in their favour, these women – with a nudge and a little help from the International Committee of the Red Cross – turned things around.

This International Women's Day, we pan the lens across the Asia-Pacific region and bring you inspirational stories from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, MyanmarSri Lanka, the Philippines and Thailand. Provided with cash grants for their small business ventures as part of the ICRC's Economic Security initiatives, these women rewrote their stories into tales of confidence and strong legacy. Making this regional feature extra special is a story of a young ICRC engineer who says being a woman is a strength, and not a weakness! Let's read on.