The Karenni National Women’s Centre was established on March 10th 1993 by Karenni women from Eastern Burma who fled to and found asylum in Thailand. Many of these women fled to escape violent human rights abuses by the Burmese government including rape, torture and forced labour.
KNWO works towards advocating for women’s rights, protection and empowerment through education, publication, advocacy and creative approaches. We envision a society where Karenni women have the same rights as men politically, socially and economically. We do this through capacity building, protecting and promoting human rights and providing necessary services to women and children.
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.
From August 13th to 15th 2016 Loikaw, Myanmar was stage for Women Peace and Security Forum. The workshop brought together speakers from KNWO, KYWO and BWU to cover the following topics involving women issues:
Security for women.
Land and enviroment.
During Day One the group discussed Social aspects involving women in the region. Main topics covered included:
Only 30% of Karenni women can vote in peace process political referendums.
Why women are not included in political peace discussions and how to make sure they are part of these forums.
Picture of violence against women in Karenni state.
During Day Two the main topics were:
Current participation of women in the state economy.
What are the challenges for women to take part in the state economy.
Environment and land: How to overcome the issue that women from some ethinic groups are not allowed to receive land from their parents.
In Day Three all groups came together to summarize main learnings from Day 1 and Day 2. Discussion focused in the following topics:
How can we include women in the Peace Process discussion.
How can we solve Gender Based Violence in the states and what are the next steps to make it happen.
How to ensure women have equal rights in the constitution.
This workshop portraited the union of Karenni women to create opportunities for themselves and the future generation. In addition, it brought deeper understanding about the issues that currently prevent them to benefit from safety, better education, and economic opportunities and gave insights on how to tackle them.
Sharing knowledge among different women associations is the best way to increase the movement strength and therefore and to ensure that in the future these issues will no longer exist.