Emerging Leaders School (ELS)

The KWO Emerging Leaders School (ELS) was started in 2008. The course ran 2 times for 10 months each time, between April 2008 and March 2009 and a similar period in 2009-2010.  The project aims to provide a higher level of education for young women, than the KYWLS curriculum and to prepare the students more for a leadership role, especially in advocacy work. There is a sister course run by the WLB in Chiang Mai.

14 students participated in the 2008-2009 school year and another 14 in the 2009-2010 school year (including 6 and 9 KWO staff members in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010, respectively). Students travelled from refugee camps, and inside Karen State to Thailand to take part in the course. The students included representatives from KWO & other organisations such as CIDKP, KTWG, KESAN, KORD, KYO, KSNG, KNU and other networks inside Burma. The young women were chosen by their organisations as having demonstrated ability and promise. All women who completed the course are now working in their respective organizations.

There were 3 core teachers in each year, plus 1 foreign volunteer English teacher and a selection of local guest teachers. In 2008-2009, the ELS also had a computer teacher. Teachers included foreign volunteers, several KWO staff members, and (in 2009-2010) the graduates of the previous year.

The program provided an opportunity to advance the women’s critical thinking, public speaking and presentation skills. Topics covered through the program included:

  • Introduction to Gender

  • History of Burma & the Karen (presented by a guest teacher)

  • Democracy

  • Public Speaking

  • Federalism (presented by a guest teacher)

  • Economics and development (presented by a guest teacher)

  • Policy Making

  • Lobbying Skills

  • UN Principles and Bodies

  • Human Rights Conventions

  • Humanitarian Law

  • Southeast Asia

  • Working with the media (presented by a guest teacher)

  • Asian Countries and their policies towards Burma

  • Lessons for Burma from Country Case Studies

  • The European Union and western countries’ policies on Burma

  • Burmese Politics Today

  • Electoral systems and quotas

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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.