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.
On the occasion of KWO’s 33rd anniversary, April 5, 2018, we celebrate our successes while also looking at our challenges ahead and how to overcome them. KWO will have it’s largest celebration of the anniversary in the Taw Oo District of Karen State led by the KWO Central leadership. The celebration includes a sport competition, a concert showing Karen culture, songs, and dancing. KWO will also present information on KWO’s work, the peace process and gender equality. KWO will particularly honor KWO leaders and staff who have worked full time for 10 years, 15 years, 20 years and 25 years respectively. KWO is the strong vibrant organization we have become because of their commitment and hard work.
It is our honor to recognize Nan Paw Gay as well for her leadership and contribution to our community and to Burma. She is a member of the KWO Standing Committee and has worked in community media. Due to her talent and hard work she rose to Chief Editor of the Karen Information Center in 2008. She was also Burma News International (BNI) Executive Director.
Additionally, we honor a KWO young leader, Naw Hser Hser, a KWO Standing Committee member and Joint General Secretary of the Women’s League of Burma. Naw Hser Hser won the P’doh Mahn Sha Young Leadership Award this year which she will receive on KWO day. KWO congratulates Naw Hser Hser on her award. Naw Hser Hser is a role model for younger women in our community through her hard work for KWO, the Karen community, and the entire ethnic community in Burma.
Both these women show the strength, vision, and hard work of Karen women and inspire all of us through their work.
In addition to all these women we also want to recognize the 80 Traditional Birth Attendants who work with KWO for their incredible contribution to the health and well being of women and children in our community.
KWO will honor 151 women and 2 men today for their positive contribution the Karen community. The list of those being recognized follows:
Women’s Champion in Social Work: Nan Paw Gay, Chief Editor of Karen Information Center and Executive Director of Burma News International
Women with over 25 years of service: P’doh Myaing Poe, P’doh Paw Day Toe, Tharmu Shwe Paw, Thramu Baw Nyaw, P’doh Naw Dah Dah, and Naw Khin Yin
Women with over 10 years of service: 31 women
Women with over 15 years of service: 30 women
Women with over 5 years of service: 5 women
Traditional Birth Attendants: 80 people (78 women and 2 men)
KWO is excited to announce the formation of a new a new “Karen Grassroots Women’s Network” which will strengthen the voice of Karen women in advocacy efforts. KWO gathered women from a wide variety of Karen civil society organisations for the third Karen Women’s Seminar at the end of March 2018.
The women discussed issues for two days and decided to form the new Grassroots Women’s Network. At the conclusion of the seminar the attendees jointly endorsed the following resolutions:
We call on the Burma Army to stop their military operations in all ethnic areas.
We want the 2008 constitution to be abolished and call on the Burma Government to begin a process whereby a genuine federal constitution can be drawn up.
We also call on all stakeholders to stop mega development projects in all ethnic areas until there is genuine peace and a political settlement.
There must be no forced repatriation of refugees.
We also call on the international community and donors to continue to support
humanitarian aid to refugees and IDPs according to international standards until peace is restored in the country
KWO was awarded a Women of Change award by the United States Embassy in Rangoon. The Women of Change Award is a U.S.Embassy initiative “to recognize Myanmar women who have made significant and lasting contributions to their communities…”
On the 23rd of November, KWO members and leaders were excited to launch our 16 day International Days for the Elimination of Violence against Women Campaign. The KWO campaign focus this year, is “Stop Domestic Violence Against Women and Children”. We will have activities in 7 Karen Refugees Camps and 7 districts in Karen State for members of our community to participate in. Below are photos from the launch.
For one dollar a day Every child is entitled to an education and to live as full a life as possible. Refugee children with, or without, disabilities deserve the same. Indigenous Karen people from Burma have lived as refugees in camps in Thailand for a long time. We formed the Karen Women’s Organization to strengthen and serve our community. There were no Special Education services in our homeland, nor in the refugee camps. Children with disability were at home, often sitting in a dark corner, and their parents had no support. So we organized ourselves and built a project to provide services and support to children with special needs. We trained refugee women to work with our disabled children and to support parents. We raised money. And we have changed lives. Tragically, our financial support has been severely reduced as other refugee crises have pulled resources.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, individual sponsors and support from the community, KWO was able to continue the Special Education Project successfully throughout the 2016-17 school year. We thank you for your encouragement and assistance. We are looking forward to the new year and hope you all stay with us!