KWO’s advocacy team raises awareness of the human rights violations of women and children in Karen State, and promotes action to bring about peaceful and democratic reform in Burma. KWO takes every opportunity to advocate for women’s rights in Burma by working with Burma’s democracy groups, attending workshops and consulting with regional and international actors. This involves numerous international and regional advocacy trips, meetings and media appearances. Our preferred method of advocacy is to join with other organisations in order to more effectively represent the situation in context, and as a whole. Therefore, our presentations are usually made in conjunction with other organisations and necessarily merged their perspective with ours. We feel that by operating in conjunction with these other groups we are gathering strength through unity, and have a higher chance of bringing change to Burma.
International and Regional Advocacy Trips: At an international level, we have met with various sectors of the United Nations, including the Human Rights Council and the Commission on the Status of Women. We also travelled to New York on a trip organized by the Burma Fund- UN office, which is under the National Coalition of the Union of Burma. On this occasion we spoke at the UN General Assembly, and met with 15 States’ representatives to the UN, for the purpose of persuading the UN to adopt the Commission of Inquiry (COI) as a UNGA resolution. As well as making presentations to the UN, we did further advocacy work at an international level. We have travelled to Canada to meet with the Canadian government representative for Cross Border Humanitarian Assistance in eastern Burma. We also travelled to Australia to engage in advocacy work and participate in a Diplomacy Training Program workshop with representatives from the Australian government, NGOs and resettled Karen groups.
In conjunction with the Burma Civil Society Group in Exile, KWO travelled to Phuket for an ASEAN Human Rights Body consultation, and spoke at a parallel panel while the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting was held Later in that same year, together with members of the Democracy Movement in Exile, KWO also travelled to Jakarta for the launch of A Proposal for National Reconciliation. Together with other allies, KWO attended a meeting with the Bangkok-based embassies, to whom we presented the situation in ethnic areas.
After the 2010 elections and the resulting influx of refugees, KWO took part in meetings with the Thai National Human Rights Council regarding the forced repatriation of refugees, to present alternative forms of action, and to advocate on behalf of the people. As a result of this, a representative of the TNHRC visited the border and other affected areas to further investigate the human consequences that such forced repatriation would have.
Networking with Women’s Groups: As part of our networking with women’s groups, both regional and international, we met in 2009 with the US Ambassador-at- large for Gender Issues, Melanne Verveer. In 2010 we travelled to New York for the International Women’s Tribunal on Crimes Against Women of Burma, where KWO’s advocate presented testimony on behalf of a KWO member who could not get a visa in time. This was organized by the Women’s League of Burma (WLB) together with the Nobel Women Initiative (NWI). We met with the UN Special Reporter on Violence Against Women for the purpose of discussing violence against women in Burma and within the refugee camps.