War and Peace – A Woman’s View – Part 1

Naw K’nyaw Paw, an executive member of the Karen Women’s Organization, in an exclusive two-part interview with Karen News spoke about the need for women to be included in peace talks as stipulated under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, the impact of drugs and gambling on family life and the added stresses women now face in Burma’s changing political landscape.

KWO’s Working For Women

KWO aims to assist all Karen women to be free from all forms of oppression including, Burmese military oppression and to be free from the male oppression in our society. In addition we aim to empower women to achieve higher living standards, to understand politics, community work and

Since the initial ceasefire between KNU and the Burmese Army, we have meet with women in villages and in districts. Most women said there are fewer restrictions on travelling, they have more freedom to work for their livelihood, and since there is not direct fighting on the ground, there have been direct decreases in human rights violations, especially sexual violence. For the women village chiefs, the challenges they faced in the past in dealing with the different military groups, the Burma Army, DBKA and Karen soldiers, have decreased. These are examples of the positive impact of the ceasefire for women in Karen State.

The Ceasefire Has Brought New Challenges…

Development projects in Karen areas have become a major problem facing women [since the ceasefire]. Women have lost their land from land grabbing. Those women who worked farms, due to dam development projects, their orchards, fields and plantations are now under [flooded] water. During the rainy season, those who live down stream, because of the release of water from the dam, their rice paddies are flooded. These are big challenges women face now… as they are responsible for their family’s welfare.

In some areas, there is an increase in drug smuggling and it has become difficult for parents to control their children because of their drug use. Children are also dropping out of school due to drug use. Their husbands are becoming more involved in gambling and drug use. In some places husbands sell the family’s property to repay debts, and this really worries women who have to continue to support their children without land or property. Daughters have to go looking for jobs in Thailand due to difficulties of finding work in their area. For some women when their husbands gamble or use drugs, they have experienced domestic violence.

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