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STAND UP Project

KWO believes sustainable and equitable development depends on community ownership and the full participation of women in all community decision-making. By becoming an implementing partner in this project, with 18 other community organisations, we have new opportunities to make progress together towards gender equality and to strengthen community resilience.

1. Project Goal

To promote agricultural productivity, nutrition and social protection in conflict-affected and displaced communities across south eastern Myanmar. By building on the capacities of 18 ethnic service providers (ESPs) and civil society organisations (CSOs), STAND UP seeks to promote Federalism from below.

2. Location

We implement our activities for this project in 6 districts in Karen State in Burma, but not in all the townships in those districts.

3. Overview

KWO is an implementing partner in the “STAND UP Project” with The Border Consortium (TBC) and a network of 18 ethnic service providers and civil society organisations. Each organisation conducts activities across South East Burma, within its own area of expertise. KWO’s contribution in the project is to advance gender mainstreaming and social protections. We provide services, advocacy and capacity building training. We push for increased levels of gender mainstreaming. To strengthen civil society we conduct community workshops for leaders and grassroots community members on gender awareness, SGBV and human rights. In sites where it is safe, we organise large community celebrations to raise awareness about gender equality on International Women’s Day (IWD). To improve social protections we provide training and material support to improve the nutrition and food programs in village Nursery Schools and Student Dormitories.

On IWD in 2020, KWO released a new report titled “Kill Me Instead Of Them” in both Karen and English. The report highlights the courage of women village chiefs in Karen state as well as the discrimination and abuse they endure to protect their communities. Karen Women Village chiefs attended the events and shared what they had experienced in their leadership roles.

We are trying to change community attitudes about women, to deepen understanding of women’s rights and human rights. The STANDUP project invited us to target the male-dominated leadership in the community. In the community workshops of course we include women as well, but this project is where we really try to get men involved in gender analysis and we want to see change happening in attitudes and behaviours. It is slow and challenging work but KWO believes men have an important role to play in learning about and respecting womens’ rights and also in the liberation of the whole community.

In 2020-21 many of our planned activities were reduced due to COVID19 restrictions, because of the violence of the Burma Army in our areas.

4. Beneficiaries and Participants

In the 2020-21 project year:

  • 13 women trainers participated in central level “Senior” TOT workshops. These senior trainers travelled to districts and gave training to many district level field trainers and mentors.
  • 175 local leaders participated in the TOT workshops at district level and when conditions allow will give training themselves in the community and in schools. (10 men, 165 women). Local leaders include: KNU governance leaders, township level leaders, village chiefs, CBOs, and KWO district/ township leaders.
  • 600 youth (300 girls and 300 boys) in Middle and High schools learnt more about gender equality.
  • 168 Dormitory students (115 girls and 53 boys) in KWO’s existing Dormitory project, received training in kitchen gardens, seeds and tools, and then benefitted from increased availability of vegetables.
  • 1,886 children under 5 years of age in 45 Village Nursery Schools received a daily lunch program and improved health.
  • 3,772 Parents, and 135 teachers and managers in village Nursery Schools increased nutrition understanding, and improved food provision programs for young children. Some also participated in kitchen garden training and set up kitchen gardens.
  • 526 participants at 2 events celebrating International Women’s Day events increased gender awareness and strengthened community coordination to support village development.

5. Main Activities

The main activities KWO conducts under this project are:

  • Training of Trainers (TOT) conducted at Central Level KWO and in each District, covering these topics: Gender Awareness, Human Rights, CEDAW, Women’s Protection, Child Protection, Indigenous Rights, and Facilitator Skills. 43 active trainers (Senior and Field).
  • Gender Awareness and Rights workshops delivered to men and women in communities, with a focus on getting men involved.
  • Early Childhood Development, improved nutrition and food security for children under 5 years of age, in 45 of the 58 Village Nursery Schools supported in KWO’s existing project. This is an outreach program to encourage nutritious infant and young child feeding behaviours.
  • Agriculture training: Kitchen gardens for Nursery Schools and Student Dormitories (in collaboration with KORD/ KESAN). Training and material support in the form of seeds and tools.
  • Organise community events to raise awareness about gender equality and women’s rights on International Women’s Day.

6. Who does the work?

There are 3 project staff and managers implementing this project. There are 13 Senior KWO trainers, and about 30 active field trainers who provide community workshops. In addition, the staff of the KWO Early Childhood Development and Dormitory projects organise the collaboration with the children and parents. All are Karen people living in their communities, mostly women and a small number of men who are trainers or are carers in the male student dormitories.

7. The Impact

Civil society at village and township levels have strengthened capacities to respond to needs and represent local communities. And we do see gradual change in attitudes towards women, a slow opening up and accepting women’s greater role in decision making. For example, invitations to KWO and other women community leaders to attend meetings and community events have increased.

The collaborative nature of this project is providing new ways to reinforce the resilience of our conflict-affected communities.