Keynote Address at the Beijing World Conference on Women by Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi

This is another of the old speeches from the pre-2009 syllabus for for Module B: Critical Study of Texts – Speeches.

Again,  there are a few notes already on Bored of Studies – not as much as the other speeches, but I’ve suggested some key notes/essay from their resources at the bottom of this page under Links.

This is one of the more difficult speeches to teach – I suggest you check out the Glossary below. It’s also not as “interesting” as the others.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. How much of a “feminist” speech is this? Compare to Margaret Atwood’s “Spotty-Headed Villainesses”.
  2. What values are evoked in this speech?
  3. How has this speech been interpreted differently by Kyi’s national audience, international audience and today’s audience?



  • Burmese government – were outraged and fearful of Kyi’s criticism and defiance of their power.
  • Burmese population – majority would have seen her as a criminal for fighting against the government, but a minority would have identified with her and admired her efforts.
  • Internationally, people would have admired her efforts as a global political activist.


  • Delivered on 31 August 1995
  • 1988: military reestablished control over Burma with the political party SLORC.
  • The SLORC banned political gatherings, arrested and sentenced people without trial and held corrupt elections.
  • 1990: Aung San Suu Kyi (leader of another party National League for Democracy) was elected into government.
  • However, the SLORC refused to hand power over to her and she was put under house arrest.
  • This speech had to be given over video.

Techniques by Paragraph

I won’t do your analysis for you, but here is a general guideline:

  1. Identify where the listed techniques are in the speech.
  2. Explain their effect/purpose.

Para 1:

  • Inclusive pronouns.
  • Positive tone/diction

Para 2:

  • Metaphor
  • Dramatic language
  • Juxtaposition/oxymoron
  • Conjunctions – dramatic pauses.

Para 4:

  • Conjunctions – dramatic pauses.
  • Dramatic language.

Para 5:

  • Metaphor
  • Dramatic language

Para 6:

  • Quotation
  • Colloquial/cliche phrase

Para 7:

  • Cultural reference – proverb
  • Analogy
  • Metaphor

Para 8:

  • Cliche
  • Dramatic language
  • Quotation
  • Repetition

Para 9:

  • Alliteration – heart/haven

Para 10:

  • Simile
  • Imagery
  • Rhetorical question

Para 11:

  • Inclusive language

Para 12:

  • Political statistics

Para 13:

  • Emotive language

Para 14:

  • Play on gender stereotypes
  • Rhetorical questions
  • Reference to psychological research

Para 15:

  • Religious allusions

Para 16:

  • Reference to the UNDP
  • Imperative language

Para 17:

  • Personal reflection
  • Inspiring tone

Para 19:

  • Metaphor


  • Emancipation – freedom
  • Dividend – the profit gained from shares
  • Intolerance – refusal to respect other views
  • Insecurity – not feeling safe
  • Intransigence – not flexible
  • Outmoded – out of date
  • Prerogative – an exclusive right
  • Dissipate – get ride of
  • Aspirations – dreams, hopes
  • Unmolested – not harmed
  • Haven – safe place
  • Adversities – hardship
  • Patronizing – look down upon, treat like a child
  • Degradation – lowering of status/quality
  • Combative – fighting
  • Conviction – determination
  • Humility – humble, not being vain
  • Pliancy – can adapt
  • Shackles – chains
  • Impediments – barriers


22 comments for “Keynote Address at the Beijing World Conference on Women by Aung San Suu Kyi

  1. shootingstar88
    July 27, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    thanks for the post ^__^

  2. amanda
    October 12, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    what’s the difference between juxtaposition and oxymoron? theyre pretty similar …

    • tutortales
      October 12, 2009 at 9:09 pm

      Oxymoron refers to 2 contradicting words placed next to each other eg. “extremely average” or “the silence whistles”.

      Juxtaposition is just the placement of two contrasting elements together, though not necessarily directly next to each other. eg. the juxaposition of dark and light colours.


      • amanda
        October 18, 2009 at 8:57 pm

        ahh i see, thanks!

  3. amand a
    November 2, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    hi, i was wondering what the difference was between values and themes ; ethics and morals?


    • tutortales
      November 8, 2009 at 10:15 am

      Values are what are considered important within society. For example, we talk about valuing honesty, integrity and peace.
      Themes are general ideas within a text. For example, the theme of love, death, good and evil.

      There’s probably a more correct understanding of the difference between ethics and morals, but in everyday usage I’ve always differentiated the two as:
      Ethics refers to systemic principles and rules of what is right/wrong. For example, there are professional ethics and codes of conduct (doctors should not become romantically involved with their patients). There are also ethical issues, such as euthanasia.
      Morality is also about what is right/wrong, but this is determined by religion, personal beliefs, conscience etc. For example, we often talk about someone’s morals or lack of morals. For some people, cheating on your husband/wife is considered morally wrong, but not really “ethically” wrong.

      Hope that makes sense!


      • amanda
        November 8, 2009 at 10:32 am

        yes it does, thank you!

  4. db
    November 28, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    how does suu kyi demonstrate perseverance?

  5. jj
    May 23, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    “Burmese population – majority would have seen her as a criminal for fighting against the government, but a minority would have identified with her and admired her efforts.”

    This is totally wrong!!!
    majority of the Burmese community see her as an icon and a hero, definetly not a criminal!!!!

    • tutortales
      May 23, 2010 at 9:54 pm

      Are you talking about when Kyi gave that speech or now? What I wrote was about when she first gave the speech.


  6. suzie
    May 30, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Can a feminist reading be applied to this and Margaret Atwood’s speech? Im trying to make a comparison/draw links between the two regarding the values and textual integrity in particular but im finding both speeches pretty full on and complex 🙁 i dont think i quite understand!

    • tutortales
      June 2, 2010 at 12:23 pm

      Yes – both speeches contain feminist elements, but are quite different. Atwood criticises extreme feminism and argues for the need to recognise women as having complex natures. Kyi looks at female empowerment, female representation in politics etc, and controversially the idea that women are pacifying, because they are nurturing.
      If you’re still stuck, have a look at the prev notes on BOS – I think both speeches have been studied pre-2009 so there should be a lot of material.


  7. Marco
    May 31, 2010 at 9:22 am

    yeah. in paragraph 2. where do you see the Juxtaposition?

    • tutortales
      June 2, 2010 at 12:17 pm

      “make a small contribution to this great celebration” – conveys her humility


  8. natalie
    July 30, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    what is the reception of this speech from today’s audience?

  9. Megan
    July 31, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    just wondering if there are any news articles of quotes from well known people about critical perspectives on the speech? cant find any! Thanks

  10. Kirsty
    August 2, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Just wondering which speeches you think link best and relate with this one, in terms of values and ideas? thanks 🙂

  11. Guy
    May 30, 2011 at 12:52 am

    Lovely summation of all points!
    Bear in mind that Suu Kyi is no longer under house arrest, and this page must be appropriately edited. “She has been under house arrest several times and is currently under detention (Amnesty International Australia has been advocating for her).”

  12. Yoona
    May 14, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Is the oxymoron “global village”? And what is the metaphor in para 2? I thought it was global village but now reconsidering..

  13. Chris Yi Seng Chew of China
    February 18, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    thanks for the fedora i got 99.95 atar thx 2 u 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *