“The most vulnerable persons in the armed conflicts are women. They have to take care children while escaping from danger”

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The 8th congress of Karen Women Organisation (KWO) was held at a special area within KWO Central from 29 June to 1 July. Participants reviewed accomplishments and challenges faced by KWO over the past six years, the amendment of organisation’s constitution and policy, updates to the organisation’s strategy plan, analysis of the current political landscape, and the formulation of future plans.

A primary focus of the 8th Congress was to actively strengthen women’s participation in politics. An agreement was also made to enhance the   political capacities of Karen women.

 This interview with Vice Chair of KWO Naw Say Say Heh is about topics discussed at the congress, agreements and future plans for woman affairs.

TLT: Could you talk about plans to enhance political capacities of Karen young women agreed at the conference?

Naw Say Say Heh: Our capacity enhancement training course is aimed to promote their decision making at any organization. Youth leaders from democracy course have attended political capacity enhancement course. However, those who missed these courses will get opportunities to join the course for politics, democracy and current political landscape.

TLT: KWO has a policy to  support women leaders who are participating in political activities. How will it be done?

Naw Say Say Heh: Those who are participating in the politics are mothers. If they want to involve in politics and need capacity, we will fulfill it individually. Young women leaders are helpful. In national elections or other elections, the KWO has approved that these women could join decision making  positions. We will give supports as much as possible.

TLT: What are the important role of women?

Naw Say Say Heh: The role of women is very crucial for the public sectors such as in education and health. Women can realize the feeling and the need of other women.

 TLT: Could you explain KWO’s commitment to advocating for the rights and protection of women and children by striving for improvements in laws and justice systems?

  Naw Say Say Heh: We will advocate for their rights. Most of the women are mother.  Very few  women  with no child participate in politics and health sectors because the most vulnerable persons in the armed conflicts are women. They have to take care children while escaping from danger. So, we have to consider how we can support in their future when we organized them for their capacity enhancement programs.

TLT: KWO updated and approved a policy on humanitarian aid. Could you talk about it? How will KWO implement this policy, and what are the activities under this policy?

Naw Say Say Heh: We already have a policy on humanitarian aid. The statement on this policy has been updated. Humanitarian assistance is needed for many issues, and that we have to monitor to avoid overlapping in assistance programs. Humanitarian aid should be given after checking with civil society organizations without direct involvement. This policy could help the donors know the essential needs of people and the aid directly go to them. Armed conflicts are intensifying in seven districts of Kayin state at present. People are fleeing their homes. And that we are preparing to help these displaced persons.

TLT: How about the situation of IDPs, especially women and pregnant women, in KNU’s territory? What do they need for healthcare services for them in rainy season?

Naw Say Say Heh: IDPs are afraid of going back home as the military is still conducting airstrike during the rainy season. They are now at risk of malaria as they have no mosquito nets while sleeping in the makeshift bunkers in the forest. They have no enough food, and no access to healthcare services at the IDP camps.

TLT: What is your concluding remark in this interview?

Naw Say Say Heh: Our next four-year future plan will be very difficult after the election. Current political situation is not stable. People should join hands each other in fighting against the military junta. We need to consider the voice of civil society organizations at the border areas. Delivery of humanitarian aid should be done in coordination with CSOs. In our future four-year plan, we must help people, including children.

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