Our goal is to empower Karen refugee women to generate income for themselves and their families. The project started in 2003 to provide advanced training in weaving and sewing for women in the camps and to source weaving and sewing materials, thus increasing women’s capacity to cre ate garments of a quality high enough to sell in competitive markets. The project is now fully implemented in Mae La Oo, Mae Ra Ma Luang, Umphiem and Noh Poe camps. In Ban Dong Yan camp, KWO provides cash to the camp based KWO staff so that they can source thread and materials themselves.

KWO provides a dedicated group of skilled weavers, sewers and embroiderers in the camps with materials, needles and thread to create traditional Karen products. The project encourages women to preserve Karen tradition by using traditional practices and designs in the products. The number of weavers and sewers has declined from over 250 in 2008, and nearly 400 in previous years. This decline is because of resettlement, and because there has been a cut in funding for conducting training to develop skills of other women in the camps.

Product Sales

The products created by women in the camps are sold in the shop in our Mae Sot Resource Centre, and sold via postal orders to resettled Karen people. The income from the sales is spent in two ways: part of it is given to the women in the camps who create the products; the other part is returned to the project to cover project materials and running costs for the shop.

Published by 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.

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