The Karen Women’s Organisation was formed in 1949 and has a membership of over 49,000 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 their formation in 1949 they have expanded their 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 organisational 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 service
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. They are working hard to educate ourselves and their communities so that they can work more effectively and advocate for their struggle on the international stage.
They believe that women’s contribution is an essential factor in the peace-building and national reconciliation processes of Burma.