Organizing and Information Sharing

As part of its community organizing function, KWO has a role to mobilize and empower the Karen community from within. Thus, KWO runs activities in order to develop the capacity particularly of women and girls: to participate in decision-making processes, to work in the community, to participate in KWO as a women’s organisation, and to implement KWO’s work and projects.

To properly represent Karen women, the KWO must ensure that it maintains good communication with its members in order to correctly identify needs, understand current issues and voice their concerns to the wider world.

Under its organizing and information-sharing program, KWO encourages dialogue and unity within the Karen community in the camps and in Karen State through workshops, meetings, consultations and exchange activities. These activities create opportunities for women in the community and KWO managers to exchange their experiences and skills. Good and regular communication ensures that activities are planned and implemented inclusively and democratically.

Traditionally, KWO has continually worked to mobilize women especially, but also the community as a whole.  We feel that it is vital for us to raise awareness of the importance of KWO, and constantly work to build our capacity and that of our members, thereby strengthening not only individuals and our organization, but also the community.  We continue to hold ourselves accountable to the community, and regularly go on Organising Trips.  These essentially provide a forum for knowledge to be disseminated, and questions to be raised at a grass-roots level.  It allows us to inform communities of KWOs work and progress, and to explain any procedural changes that may have been made. It ensures that any confusion can be cleared up before it has time to become problematic, and provides a formal space where community feedback can be given.  Because of this, we are able to operate knowing that we truly represent the opinions and needs of our communities.

In Karen State, KWO workers document and record information relating to Human Rights abuses committed against members of their communities by the SPDC.  This is later processed through our more formal channels and used in our advocacy work as part of our published reports.  Within the Camps a similar task is undertaken in relation to SGBV cases.

At all levels we work to support other community organizations e.g. youth groups, minority groups, and  foster their efforts to empower individuals and groups. To this end, we are often asked by other CBOs to aid them by sharing our experience and knowledge through trainings, workshops and motivational speeches. Our organizational coordinators are constantly networking and sharing knowledge between levels and groups, and as well as keeping CBOs and communities informed about KWO’s work, they also share information on developments at local and international levels, and distribute informative and educational pamphlets and other publications.  This is especially important to our communities in Karen State and in the Camps, as due to travel restrictions and security reasons, they are severely limited in their access to news.

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About Karen Women Organisation

The Karen Women Organisation was formed in 1949 and has a membership of over 64,100 women. KWO is a community-based organisation of Karen women working in development and relief in the refugee camps on the Thai border and with IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) and women inside Burma. Since our formation in 1949 we have expanded our focus from one of purely social welfare to try to encourage an awareness of Women's Rights and to promote women’s participation in the community decision making and political processes. The objectives of the KWO  To assist women in the endeavour to be free from all forms of oppression.  To promote and empower women in all spheres of life, including education and general living standards.  To encourage women to participate in the struggle for freedom, democracy and equality.  To develop women's knowledge, ability and skills, including political and organizational skills.  To achieve the rights of women and equal status with men.  To promote and maintain Karen culture and traditions.  To improve the well-being of women and children and to increase their access to adequate health, education and welfare services. KWO aims to empower women through offering various capacity building trainings to teach skills, build confidence and create new opportunities so that women will be better able to solve problems. We are working hard to educate ourselves and our communities so that we can work more effectively and advocate for our struggle on the international stage. We believe that women’s contribution is an essential factor in the peace-building and national reconciliation processes of Burma.