We invite women to take up opportunities to increase income generation and establish livelihoods through training, and marketing. We teach women how to do traditional weaving, and embroidery, to make items they can then sell. This project is run up to four of the refugee camps at any one time: Mae La, Mae La Oo, Umphiem and Noh Poe. Mae La is the primary location for this work.
KWO’s income generation project (IGP) aims to empower Karen refugee women to generate income for themselves and their families. It is also a unique way to uphold the Karen history through traditional weaving methods. The project staff provide advanced training in sewing and weaving for women in the camps as a means to build their capacity and economically empower them. Women who participate
in the training become skilled at producing beautiful garments of high quality. The project is active in Mae La, Umphiem, Noh Poe. KWO provides materials to camp-based staff to give to the women producing the handicrafts, which they are in turn able to generate a profit from. KWO established this project in order to assist women and girls to build up their capacity and knowledge skills including sewing, weaving, and embroidery. However, we also see it is important for women and girls to be more aware of their rights, protections and what is happening in their community.
Over the last two-years, KWO has focused on two main activities, which include providing life skills to women and girls and women’s discussion activities. Life skill activities were carried out in Mae La camp with a focus on weaving and embroidery skills workshops and practical activities.
This project also helps preserve Karen cultural traditions, and develop a sense of place and identity.
In 2018, KWO conducted four training sessions on the topic of women and embroidery, weaving and advancing weaving and quality control training with 112 participants interested in advancing their skills and improving their livelihoods through embroidery. Awareness raising sessions on women’s protection issues were included.
After the training, KWO camp staff provided raw materials to participants to practice their skills. The weaving and embroidery training is 15 to 20 days with regular practicing after the training for at least three months.
KWO also provided a three-day intensive training on quality control for 30-women in Mae La camp twice. This training includes quality control, color management, product design and development, marketing and small business skills. KWO camp-based staff also included awareness raising topics focusing on women’s protection issues. At the end of the training, participants have an increased knowledge and continue to develop their skills in their interested areas and produce better products.
All materials made are sold in the Mae Sot Resource Centre. The funds generated are spent in two different ways – the first is equal and fair distribution to the women in the camp who are creating the products and secondly to cover project materials and running costs for the shop.
KWO has also recently been meeting with local Mae Sot businesses with the goal of selling products in various guest-houses and restaurants in the town to earn and generate a more regular income from the products.
KWO is an ethnic women’s community-based organization that empowers women so they have capacity and power to solve their own problems and participate in decision-making that will affect their lives.
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