Thank you for taking the time to learn about Karenni National Women’s Organization!
Karenni National Women’s Organization (KNWO) was established in 1993 in Nai Soi refugee camp in north-west Thailand, by Karenni women from Karenni state. Through the years, KNWO has gained recognition as a leading organization in the promotion and protection of women’s rights in Karenni state and in the refugee camps.
Our vision is for every woman and girl to make their own choices in their lives, enjoy full equal rights, and live free from violence.
Discover the background of KNWO, the inspiring women fighting for gender equality and women’s rights, and the current socio-political situation in Karenni state.
March is celebrated worldwide for being Women’s History Month and home to International Women’s Day. However this year we also comemmorated a major milestone in our organisation’s history: KNWO’s 25th anniversary!
This month our staff coordinated and participated in a broad range of advocacy events and campaigns, as well as making significant progress in our strategy plans for the months and year ahead.
Take a look at our highlights below…
KNWO’s 25th Anniversary and IWD Celebrations
Since 1993, KNWO has evolved into a leading women’s organization serving over 1500 Karenni women members and over 5,000 families in two refugee camps along the border. KNWO’s 20,000 members promote the need for peace in their families and communities in the idea is that peace will spread from individual homes.
To celebrate 25 years of progress, KNWO hosted a joint anniversary and International Women’s Day ceremony on the 10th March for our supporters and members in Mae Hong Son. Thank you to everyone who attended!
Traditional performances during the ceremony
An attendee reads about KNWO’s work.
KNWO’s Loikaw staff also hosted a small celebration at our branch office which many local organisations, partners and supporters attended.
KNWO staff, friends and family celebrate the anniversary.
Karenni National Day Celebrations
Our members, staff and supporters gathered in Mae Hong Son to celebrate the Karen New Year 2757.
KNWO Annual Meeting
Our annual meeting was held mid-month at our Mae Hong Son office. The three-day meeting was an opportunity for field staff and Loikaw branch staff to present on their current programme work, share reporting and develop a strategy for the year-ahead.
GBV coordination meeting
KNWO staff also participated in the bi-monthly GBV coordination meeting involving women’s groups, INGOs, legal and health aid organizations, UNHCR and local authorities. The aim of these meetings is to strengthen future shared action plans to address GBV in the Karenni state. Hosting coordination meetings is an effective way to tackle the challenges of case management and advocacy in order to provide the best legal, emotional and practical support to survivors.
WEAVE Graduation Ceremony
At the end of March, we were proud to see many of our Women Study Programme Participants graduate in a ceremony was in Camp 1. Thank you to our partners WEAVE for making this possible through our collaboration and helping so many women to reach their full potential.
A proud participant with her graduation certificate
Programme participants from the Women Study Programme.
KNWO are so grateful to everyone involved for standing in solidarity with the women we serve. Your support has made – and will continue to make – this incredible progress for women’s rights possible.
On 8th March 2018, KNWO held an International Women’s Day celebration at De Maw Soe township, Daw Ng Kha. The event attracted a total of 170 participants from the De Maw Soe township, Loikaw township, Nan Mae Kso city, Moe Byal city and Phruso township, comprising of local women, men, youth, section leaders, political parties, and YLFC students.
The event was a fantastic opportunity to share knowledge about women’s rights, as well as the importance of including women in peace building processes. Topics discussed included reducing gender-based violence (GBV) and support for survivors through safe-house services and local justice systems.
Highlights of the day included a role play on women and security prepared by the YLFC (Youth Life Formation Centre) and testimonies from two local representatives about the experiences of women in their communities.
Manaw yu Hpaw Htoo, from the Lawsi village, explained that in her community many women still do not recognize the abuse they face at home as domestic violence. Even when domestic violence is recognised and reported, local leaders tend to respond with ineffective traditional methods.
She shared “The majority of community leaders are men. They don’t provide women with opportunities to make decisions and I feel our views are not respected. We want equal rights for men and women and for both to work together.”
To end the day, participants all contributed towards a poster to send their personal messages about the importance of women’s rights, building peace and preventing violence against women. They demanded better care and sympathy for female survivors and improved safety for their children. Many shared their sense of pride in KNWO’s work and left with a stronger understanding of where women can seek support, justice and guidance.
There is a clear desire for change in the communities KNWO supports. Through events such as these, KNWO will continue to bring communities together to celebrate women’s vital contributions and ensure women’s safety and empowerment is prioritised at every level.
On September 29th 2016 KNWO staff representatives reunited with other Women Organizations from Myanmar in a networking conference in Yangon. It was the 4th time that women organzations from different states met in this national level conference.
During the meeting, KNWO team presented their work with the safe house to the audience. The focus was on Prevention and Response program. After each organization exposed their work to the public, all participants grouped to discuss their weaknesses and strengths to implement their goals.
Discussion main focus was the following questions:
What the best way to achieve justice for women victim of Gender Based Violence is.
Which actions shall we implement to protect women from violence.
After this activity, the group built a plan to prioritize actions and assign responsibilities. The meeting transcript will generate a report that will be shared with partners and other stakeholders in January 2017.
From September 19th to 21st September 2016, KNWO held Karenni Women’s Voice Conference at Maw Du Dee Boe Hall, Htay Ta Ma Village, Chi Kel village cluster, Loikaw Township, Kayah State, Myanmar. The Conference counted with the presence of Ethnic Armed Groups, Senate, Political Party Groups, Civil Society Organizations, NGOs and INGOs and Karenni people representatives. Citizens from Loikaw’s seven townships attended to the conference, of those, 169 were males and 271 were females. A total of 440 participants from 48 villages were actively engaged in the Conference.
Discussions during Conference first day were focused in the result of a consultation with community members led by Karenni National Women Organization (KNWO). This consultation took place in the months of August and September 2016. In this task-force, 1730 participants were interviewed, 634 being males and 1096 females. Topics of discussion were Human Rights, Women’s Right, Social, Economics, Politics, Security and Land and Environment.
Oo Al Phon Shoe, Kayah State Prime Minister opened second day of the Conference with a welcome speech. Khu Oo Reh, Deputy Chair Person of Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and Unity of Ethnic Federation Council (UNFC) Secretary shared a speech aiming to clarify Myanmar Peace Process. His speech was followed by a panel discussion about women’s peace and security, women’s participation in politics, women’s participation in social affairs, women’s participation in economics and Land and Environment. These topics were chosen in order to include all aspects of women roles and gender equality. In the last session of the day, the participants were divided into groups that discussed the above mentioned topics in depth and listed suggestions for improvement.
In the third day of the Conference, moderators summarized the discussions of first two days. This was followed by an extensive group work which raised key recommendations for improvement to insitutions such as Government, Army (Tamadaw), Ethnic Armed Groups, Senate, Political Parity, NGO/CBOs and Donors.
Result of the discussion:
Women’s political awareness should be increased. There should be a better understanding of elections dinamics and other political specific topics.
To raise religious leaders’ awareness about women’s rights. Traditional leaders should recognize and promote women’s rights.
To provide political training and capacity building for women to boost their participation in politics. Participation should be encouraged by parents and other family members.
Women should integrate institutions in National Government, State level, Village clusters and townships in all decision making levels.
To include women representatives from State level to Federal level to participate and to present sub-tribes political aspect and consideration on their recommendations.
To create a policy to ensure inclusion of at least (30%) of women in all aspects of politics and peace process discussions.
Sufficient budget for Education, Health and Social Welfare to be allocated under National Budget.
To grant ID cards and household registration to all Internal Displace People (IDP).
Old beliefs about women’s roles being limited to mother and wife hold women and society abck and should be replaced by modern approaches.
To raise male leaders’ awareness about women’s rights (religious leaders, ethnies leaders, administrators).
To raise women’s awareness about their own rights.
To eliminate the word “Dependent” from women’s ID card. Currently ID cards state “Household Leader in males’ IDs” and “Dependent”, Female.
To recognize conflict zones and villages which are still not registered by government.
To provide job posts to all those who return from Borders areas.
State Government must create job opportunities for all women.
Government and Ethnic Armed Groups must collaborate to create a clear taxes payment policy.
To create a policy that allows for widow and vulnerable women to have a reduced taxes priviledge.
To create an Agriculture and Trade Commission in Karenni State.
To create job posts for those who fled from civil war and wish to return to their places of origin.
To ensure creation and maintenance of safe work environments for women.
To prioritize selection of local people as employees in public institutions operating in their home areas.
Stop all forms of sexual exploitation. Stop the use of women as economic advertisement.
To create a written law about women protection in Karenni State. In case of violation of this law, authorities should take quick action accordingly.
Members of Army and Ethnic Armed Groups who violate women’s security must be judged and punished accordingly.
Authorities must take severe actions against individuals who commit sexual abuse or any form of sexual violence against women.
Increase and promote women participation in decision making of legitimacy law.
Women must be hired for vacancies in Police.
Authorities to take severe actions against individuals who sell any type of drug.
To respect women’s peace and security rights based on international norms.
5. Land and Environmental Policy:
Ensure women the right to own land. It is required a reform in old traditions which state that women are not allowed to own land.
To ensure land law to women to be own land and change should not be Male as Household leaders.
Government, Tamadaw (Army) and Ethnic Armed Groups to cooperate in order to ensure cease of unlawful land confiscation.
Ensure that unlawfully confiscated lands are returned to original owners.
To promote women’s right to manage land.
Increase women’s knowledge about land management.
Women must be involved in decision making regarding amendment of land law (constitution).
To take action on Justice, ethnically to develop for regional.
KNWO will submit a report with more detailed information to Government, Tamadaw (Army), Ethnic Arm Groups, Senate Representatives, Political Party Groups, NGOs, CSOs and Donors in October 2016.
On Friday, September 16th, KNWO, FRC (Finnish Refugee Council) and SSID (Small Scale Industry Department) celebrated the closure of its first vocational educational training in Basic Sewing techniques in a joint ceremony. The event held in Loikaw counted with the speeches of authorities and the training participants.
25 women from Kayah’s state all seven townships were awarded with a sewing training certificate. They took part in a eight week course designed to provide them with craft and living skills. Program goal is to prepare participants to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
Tee Moe, course trainer, shared her contentment with the mission: “I was very happy to see how interested in learning our students were and how hard they worked. I am often asked by other women in the villages when we will have another training, because they want to participate. I feel proud to be able to share my skills with other women.”
Basic sewing training is the first of a double module sewing course. Advanced sewing course is estimated to start in October and be run through the month of November. The program does not onlybuilds women’s technical and soft skills, but also focus in ensuring they have guidance to commercialize their products. Activities held by KNWO staff include contact with potential clients and support participants to finance their sewing machines.
Admiring the beautiful finished products at the vocational training workshop
September 19th to 21st 2016 will be marked as important dates for Karenni National Women’s Organization (KNOW – Loikaw office).
In this date, KNWO-Loikaw will hold its Karenni State Women’s Voice conference at Kay Htoe Boo hall, Loikaw. The conference highlights the results of a community consultation carried out by KNWO-Loikaw covering Kayah State’s seven Townships.
The conference will gather around 350 delegates from the seven townships and circa 100 guests and representatives from State Government, Parliamentary, Political Parties, Ethnic Arm Organization International, local and Community based organizations in Myanmar and Thailand, respectively.
The event will throw light in women peace and security issues exposed by villagers during community consultations. Those issues include political, social, economic, security and land right and natural resources.
Khu Oo Reh, Vice Chair from Karenni National Progressive Party will share an update about Myanmar Peace process. Among the notable and well-known personalities within the circle of international and local organizations are Thin Thin Aung, Poe Nge, Nang Phyu Phyu Lin, Naw May Oo, Show Ei Ei Tun and Khu Khu Ju. They will speak about the five pillars of framework for political negotiation with gender perspective. Thin Thin Aung, Women’s League of Burma advisor and board member will be the conference moderator.
The opening ceremony will start at 8:30 AM where all delegates and guests will do a processional march to mark the opening of the conference. Representatives from KNWO will do the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
As part of a vocacional education program, KNWO is promoting a sewing training from August 2nd to September 22nd 2016.
The training is the first of this kind in the region. It was designed to provide craft skills for women living in Kayah state rural area. Program end goal is to give participants alternatives to generate extra income for their families. KNWO leadership expects that it can serve to help to raise local families out of poverty in the long term.
The selection criteria included woman IDP Women (Internal Displaced People), those women victim of Gender Based Violence (GBV), married and unemployed women and women living in rural areas. Another selection requirement is age. Participants are requested in the age range between 18 and 50 years old. The racional behind this selection is to ensure that the training opportunity is given to those individuals that need it the most. In total, 25 women are attending to Basic sewing training.
Basic sewing training is the first of a double module sewing course. Advanced sewing course is estimated to start in October and run through the month of November. These dates are under discussion with partner organizations and will be confirmed in the coming weeks.