October 2017

With grant support, CSOs are working to raise awareness and protect vulnerable citizens from gender-based violence

Rita Jen and Ma Khaing are from the village of Kyauk Su village in Mae Sae Township, located just 30 minutes from the Thai-Myanmar border in Kayah State. Rita has a 2 year old child and Ma Khaing has 6 children. In addition to their extensive housekeeping and family responsibilities, they also work as casual agricultural laborers. The Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP) provided a grant to the Kareni National Women Organization (KNWO) to empower women and improve their awareness of gender issues. KNWO works closely with local communities like the village of Kyauk Su to show how their support improves socio-economic conditions and to select participants for their events. Rita Jen and Ma Kahing were two participants selected for a 10-day training of trainers (TOT) program, and subsequently became members of Education and Advocacy Team, designed to improve understanding of women rights and to provide services in the community. A safe house associated with this initative has provided shelter for more than 50 victims of violence.

Rita Jen and Ma Kahing know first-hand about the impact of gender-based violence. Their villages are prone to drug and alcohol abuse, and violence is common place. Many women accepted this behavior as their husband’s right, but after learning how gender based violence impacts families and the community, the women began to know and exert their rights to reduce the violence. Using knowledge learned during the training, Rita Jen and Ma Kahing enlightened relatives and other women, often while working in the agricultural fields or during social events. Women now approach them directly for advice and they have since provided training for 48 villages. The trainings also include men who are now beginning to see the impact of their actions and women are reporting a reduction in violence.

Ma Kahing has supported family members and neighbors to address violence in the family, by confronting perpetrators and educating them on the impact of their actions. She said that “This TOT training is very useful and has opened my eyes to see everything. God has blessed me to be able to save women from bad circumstances.” The benefits of the PRLP grant continue to be felt in the community and to improve the human rights of people in Myanmar.

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