The Palaung Women's Organisation (PWO) was established in the year 2000 in response to the lack of women actively participating within other Palaung organisations. It was perceived that the female members of such groups lacked the opportunities, skills and self-confidence necessary for direct and active participation. Cultural factors determined that men had greater access to training, better English language and computer skills, greater self-confidence and more leadership opportunities. PWO was formed with the intention of educating and empowering women so that they could develop and strengthen their own self-determination and achieve equality of participation.
PWO provides gender and human rights training to Palaung women and their communities; increases international and community knowledge of the Palaung people, their history and cultures; and raises awareness of the human rights abuses suffered by the Palaung people.
PWO works to advocate and advance the status of women in all fields of development. It works towards achieving gender equality, justice, peace and democratic society.
Projects and programmes
Women’s Political Development Programme
Young Women’s Capacity Building Training
PWO has provided this three-month programme at least twice annually since 2006. The training mainly focuses on democracy, rule of law, federalism, human rights, women’s rights and the political background of Burma.
PWO has conducted an internship programme for its members every 6 months since 2005. Interns learn about Burmese politics, English, computer skills, PWO activities and office management skills. After finishing the programme, some interns work as PWO staff.
Eliminating Violence Against Women Program
PWO provides training on gender based violence and the trafficking of women, educating and raising awareness on gender based violence issues including trafficking, rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment and other kinds of women's rights violations.
PWO has helped trafficked women who have faced violence in their communities. PWO opened up a crisis centre to provide these women support and a temporary place to stay.
PWO is a member of the Adolescent Reproductive Health Network (ARHN) and provides adolescent and reproductive health training to young people in the Palaung area of Burma.
Income Generation Project
Since 2004, PWO has run workshops and produced Palaung cultural products, including dried tea, longi, shawls and embroidery.
Information and Documentation Research Department
PWO collects evidence of various human rights violations in the Palaung area and cooperates with Network for Human Rights Documentation-Burma (ND-Burma) on legal analysis, and maintains a database of human rights violations in Burma using the Martus program.
PWO also provides documentation training to young people inside Burma, publishes reports and journals and releases statements on the latest issues in Burma through the media and on the PWO website.
PWO cooperates with the Women's League of Burma and the Network for Human Rights Documentation-Burma in lobbying the international community to raise awareness about the Palaung people and women's issues in Burma.
PWO advocates to raise awareness among community leaders and Palaung people about women's circumstances, and what is necessary to improve the lives of vulnerable women within their community.