said Thursday. “It is utterly abhorrent that security forces are firing live ammunition against peaceful protesters across the country.”

In the weeks since the protests began, groups of female medical volunteers have patrolled the streets, tending to the wounded and dying. Women have added spine to a civil disobedience movement that is crippling the functioning of the state. And they have flouted gender stereotypes in a country where tradition holds that garments covering the lower half of the bodies of the two sexes should not be washed together, lest the female spirit act as a contaminant.

With defiant creativity, people have strung up clotheslines of women’s sarongs, called htamein, to protect protest zones, knowing that some men are loath to walk under them. Others have affixed images of Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the army chief who orchestrated the coup, to the hanging htamein, an affront to his virility.

The Tatmadaw, as the military is known, is deeply conservative, opining in official communications about the importance of modest dress for proper ladies.

There are no women in the Tatmadaw’s senior ranks, and its soldiers have systematically committed gang rape against women from ethnic minorities, according to investigations by the United Nations. In the generals’ worldview, women are often considered weak and impure. Traditional religious hierarchies in this predominantly Buddhist nation also place women at the feet of men.

The prejudices of the military and the monastery are not necessarily shared by Myanmar’s broader society. Women are educated and integral to the economy, particularly in business, manufacturing and the civil service. Increasingly, women have found their political voice. In elections last November, about 20 percent of candidates for the National League for Democracy, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, were women.

The party won in a landslide, trouncing the military-linked and far more male-dominated Union Solidarity and Development Party. The Tatmadaw has dismissed the results as fraudulent.

As the military began devolving some power over the past decade, Myanmar experienced one of the most profound and rapid societal changes in the world. A country that had been cut off from the world by the generals, who first seized power in a 1962 coup, went on Facebook and discovered memes, emojis and global conversations about gender politics.

armed conflict with the military.

When they led their rally on Feb. 6, the two women marched in shirts associated with the Karen ethnic group, whose villages have been overrun by Tatmadaw troops in recent days. Ms. Esther Ze Naw is from another minority, the Kachin, and as a 17-year-old she spent time in camps for the tens of thousands of civilians who were uprooted by Tatmadaw offensives. Military jets roared overhead, raining artillery on women and children, she recalled.

“That was the time I committed myself to working toward abolishing the military junta,” she said. “Minorities know what it feels like, where discrimination leads. And as a woman, we are still considered as a second sex.”

“That must be one of the reasons why women activists seem more committed to rights issues,” she added.

While the National League for Democracy is led by Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, its top ranks are dominated by men. And like the Tatmadaw, the party’s highest echelons have tended to be reserved for members of the country’s ethnic Bamar majority.

On the streets of Myanmar, even as the security forces continue to fire at unarmed protesters, the makeup of the movement has been far more diverse. There are Muslim students, Catholic nuns, Buddhist monks, drag queens and a legion of young women.

“Gen Z are a fearless generation,” said Honey Aung, whose younger sister, Kyawt Nandar Aung, was killed by a bullet to the head on Wednesday in the city of Monywa. “My sister joined the protests every day. She hated dictatorship.”

In a speech that ran in a state propaganda publication earlier this week, General Min Aung Hlaing, the army chief, sniffed at the impropriety of the protesters, with their “indecent clothes contrary to Myanmar culture.” His definition is commonly considered to include women wearing trousers.

Moments before she was shot dead, Ms. Kyal Sin, dressed in sneakers and torn jeans, rallied her fellow peaceful protesters.

As they staggered from the tear gas fired by security forces on Wednesday, Ms. Kyal Sin dispensed water to cleanse their eyes. “We are not going to run,” she yelled, in a video recorded by another protester. “Our people’s blood should not reach the ground.”

“She is the bravest girl I have ever seen in my life,” said Ko Lu Maw, who photographed some of the final images of Ms. Kyal Sin, in an alert, proud pose amid a crowd of prostrate protesters.

Under her T-shirt, Ms. Kyal Sin wore a star-shaped pendant because her name means “pure star” in Burmese.

“She would say, ‘if you see a star, remember, that’s me,’” said Ms. Cho Nwe Oo, her friend. “I will always remember her proudly.”

View Source