International Women’s Day 2012 – From Fear To Freedom

Karen Language Version KWO Statement for Int’l Women Day 2012

Date: 8th March 2012
“Women moving forward from Fear to Freedom”

The Karen Women Organization (KWO) welcomes another International Women’s Day. One of the themes for this year is “FROM FEAR TO FREEDOM”. On March 8th each year, women around the world reflect on our progress toward equality and freedom. We celebrate our victories and look at how far women still have to go. KWO has worked for many years to protect, support, defend and empower women who have been abused, by anyone from members of the Burmese military or their own husbands. These women have been taught to be afraid, to live each day with fear.

Worldwide, at least one third of all women are victims of violence. It is the most widespread human rights violation on earth. We see this every day, particularly in the 7 refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border where KWO runs safe houses for women who have been subjected to violence and need a safe harbor. 77% of the cases we handle are women who have been subjected to domestic violence, the other 23% are rapes or attempted rapes. Women will not be able to move from fear to freedom without a working system to achieve justice in the camps and for any cases referred outside of camps to the justice system in Thailand.

We believe the current system is failing women in our community. Community systems and structures need to be supported and strengthened in order to directly and effectively reduce the violence experienced by women in our community. Camp justice systems must be made more comprehensive and supported rather than undermined.

KWO Joint Secretary 2, Ta Mla Saw said today, “Daw Aung San Suu Kyi wrote a book called “Freedom from Fear” so we know that she too, as a woman, understands how important this idea is. Our aim in KWO is to help women who have suffered from violence, to transform their fear, and for it to grow into something stronger. freedom! Every woman understands this.”

Currently, the Burmese government says they want to work for peace in Burma and has started the peace process talks with different ethnic opposition groups. KWO has called for women’s participation in the peace process to ensure that this process reflects the voices of women who live this conflict. KWO reaffirms that only women’s participation in the peace process can stop fear and create freedom without fear for all women

As KWO has been involved in solving the problem of violence against women in the community, we believe that any solution must include an empowered, engaged, and educated community, especially women and women’s groups. “KWO believes that all refugees and particularly women should continue to say to everyone, “Nothing about us without us.” We need to be involved and engaged in order to gain our rights, equality and our freedom.” Stated Dah Eh Kler, Secretary

Right now the current system is teaching women that there is no safe place and no future. There is a lot of fear and not enough freedom. This International Women’s Day all of us should recommit ourselves to strengthening the justice systems available to abused women in refugee camps. We have to work together to win access to real justice and so women can find themselves successfully walking from fear to freedom.

Contact:
Nan Dah Eh Kler – +66 857269291
Naw Blooming Night Zan- +66 885455746

 

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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.