Karen Young Women’s Leadership School

KWO established the Karen Young Women’s Leadership School (KYWLS) in 2001. KYWLS targets young women who are interested in working for organizations, including KWO, in their communities to provide them with the skills and knowledge necessary to do so. The KYWLS has helped to educate women to fill the gaps left in many organizations as a result of resettlement to third countries.

We believe to be leaders young women need to learn about women’s rights, democracy, the international context of the Karen people, human rights, running projects, basic office management skills, public speaking, advocacy and many related topics.  The school covers all of these subjects during this project year and exposes the young women to a wide variety of community situations and organizations in order to help them understand the many things happening in our community.

We teach traditional Karen skills including weaving and sewing in addition to typing and other skills. The students learn the basics of program planning, implementation and evaluation in order to prepare them to work for Karen community organizations. We invite guests and teachers from a broad range of backgrounds, and district or community leaders, to meet with and make presentations to the students in the school. The day to day school is conducted by one full time teacher and one life skills teacher.

The women, who are aged between 18 and 30 years old come to study from refugee camps and five districts in Karen State as well as KWO Central representatives. Between 2018 and 2019, 37 students graduated from KWYLS where many will go on to work alongside other community-based organizations in their community.As a result of this training, many have been elected to leading positions at the district and camp level. In 2018, KWO conducted a four-week TOT with 13-trainers to increase teaching quality and review the curriculum, which needed to be updated to address current developments in Burma’s human rights situation, as well as developments in CBO work. A new school, teacher’s house and guest teacher home was also built to increase the space available for training and housing.

Every year, KWO reviews and adapts the curriculum to match the context of Burma’s current situation with a gender perspective. In 2019, we organized a KWYLS reunion with 74 alumni from all the years the project has been running
which included 16 groups and over 200 graduates.

Almost all KYWLS graduates now work in organisations in their communities, usually the KWO, but in other CBOs also. Many have been elected as district or camp standing committee members of KWO, and some as the vice chair, secretary, joint secretary or auditor and treasurer in their respective camps or districts which is an outstanding recognition of the capacity of young women.

Please click the below for a video that introduces KYWLS:

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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