We believe women’s full participation in community decision making, service provision, and community management is essential to achieve an equitable and fair society for all.
1. Project Goal
To recognise and support KWO camp-based leaders and staff and enable them to work more effectively in community management.
We implement this project in the 7 Karen-majority Refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border.
The governance structures in the Karen-majority refugee camps are the “Camp Committees” which are elected bodies made up of refugees, and are under the supervision of the “Karen Refugee Committee” (KRC) and the Royal Thai Government (RTG). The camp committees plan and manage all the affairs of the camp community and receive financial and technical support from TBC, their main donor. The membership of all the camp committees present a much higher percentage of men and lack representation by women.
KWO’s structure in each camp also means there are elected committees of refugee women who provide community management and development services. For many years women in KWO leadership positions did not receive a stipend and struggled to stay in their positions to work full-time. However after a request for financial support to TBC in 2009, KWO has been able to provide a basic stipend to women leaders under this project. Receiving a stipend allows women to work full-time in their positions and respond more effectively to community needs and thus women’s participation in community decision-making is increased. Under this project we also provide support for childcare for those women leaders who have very young children, and a small amount of funds each month to cover some administration costs for each KWO office in the camps. Our aim is to support women’s work, and acknowledge their role as community managers and advocates and service providers. The work of the women in KWO in the refugee camps and in Karen State is described in detail in the “Women’s Voice Project”.
Each year since 2012 there have been substantial cuts to services and rations provided by NGOs for refugees in the camps along the Thai-Burma border. According to KWO research there has been a 40% reduction across all sectors of support. This reduction has translated into significant decreases in the quantity and quality of health, food, education, and management provision for refugees.
4. Beneficiaries and Participants
In the 2020-21 project year:
- 177 women community managers benefitted from receiving a monthly stipend. They are the camp-level KWO committees, plus 1 or 2 women in each section-level KWO committee.
- The staff and leaders operating the 10 KWO offices in the 7 camps, received a small monthly administration budget.
- 15 women leaders received childcare support so they were able to continue working.
5. Main Activities
The main activities under this project are:
- Provision of monthly stipends to women community managers.
- Provision of monthly financial support for 10 KWO offices in the 7 camps.
- Provision of childcare support to women leaders who have very young children.
6. Who does the work?
There is one project staff implementing this project. She is responsible to ensure that support is delivered safely to the 7 camps, keep records and report to the donor.
KWO’s work in the refugee camps, carried out by the women receiving stipends in the Camp Support project, is described in the KWO’s “Women’s Voice Project”.
7. The Impact
The broad Karen refugee community benefits in countless ways through the greater empowerment and participation of women and the resultant stronger community voice. Communities with high levels of women’s participation are more equitable and more peaceful. More secure working conditions and higher participation of women in the community results in better quality care for the most vulnerable members of the community.