Karen Women Demand To Be Heard

Yesterday more than a 100 young men and women helped the Mergui-Tavoy District branch of the Karen Women’s Organization celebrated the International Day of Peace at their jungle office in Southern Burma.

The KWO embraced the slogan ‘Peace begins in the family and spreads to the world.’ P’doh Naw May Ro Paw, secretary of KWO Mergui-Tavoy District said.

“This is the first time that we celebrate the International Day of Peace. Peace in the world can only gain if we can make peace in individual heart, our family, and our community.”

P’doh Naw May Ro Paw told Karen News that peace has to start with the individual.

“Today in Karen communities domestic violence is a problem, wives are still being abused by husbands who are under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Many husbands are restricting their wives involvement in community and working in organizations.”

P’doh Naw Wah Wah, KWO’s chairperson for the Laynya Bokebyin area explained to Karen News that women are meant to know their place.

“From my experience of working in the community, women are not encouraged to participate in community work and especially working for an organization. When we have meetings in different villages only men join in. Women are not allow to come, they are told by the men that women need to be at their own place.”

P’doh Naw Wah Wah points out that even at an organizational level women need the permission of men if they want to do their jobs.

“Whenever we [KWO] carry out any activities we are only allowed do it if the village headman or local authority allows us to.”

P’doh Naw May Ro Paw called for more women to be included in the current peace building negotations between the Karen National Union and the Burmese government.

“We would like that suggest that women should be included in the peace building process to help the peace process – our voice should be include.”

P’doh Naw Wah Wah said peace building in the community a big challenge

“When we explain to communities the work involved in peace building most of the village elders, especially Karen religious leaders don’t support us and say ‘this is not their business’. We need to explain the peace building process to community religions leaders so they can work with us to build peace.”

The KWO’s International Day of Peace celebrations included a competition for youth groups and a women’s group drama about peace and the debate about the ceasefire.

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