Sunday November 19th 2017

Programs

Peace and Reconciliation

In 2000, WLB held its first session of Congress. The women in attendance recognized that genuine and lasting peace requires more than simply an end to violent conflict and must involve specific peacebuilding mechanisms to rebuild communities and trust inside Burma. Therefore the congress made trust building and peacebuilding between the war-torn communities of Burma a top priority for WLB.

The women of WLB understand that sustainable and lasting peace cannot exist when severe gender inequality and gender-based violence is present in society. Furthermore, until women are protected from gender-based violence through policy and practice and are treated as equals in the political, social, and economic realms, it is impossible for genuine peace and stable democracy to develop and flourish.

Goal

To eradicate all forms of violence from society and work toward the creation of a just, equal, and democratic Burma

Objectives

  • To build a culture of mutual trust, understanding, and respect among the people of Burma through national reconciliation
  • To raise awareness about the issues of conflict management, conflict resolution, peace building, social justice, gender justice, and non-violence in grassroots communities
  • To increase the number of peace agents that can educate the people of Burma and transform the country from violent conflict to sustainable peace and democracy

Today, the Peace and Reconciliation Program works in Bangladesh, India, Thailand, and Burma. Program activities have expanded to include:

  • Negotiation workshops withceasefire groups, grassroots trainings and peacebuilding workshops for between 1,000-3,000 women and men per year
  • International Peace Day Activities in 26 different locations reaching over 3,000 people inside and outside Burma
  • A Peace Speaking Tour involving approximately 1,000 youth in Bangladesh and Thailand
  • Numerous publications calling for peace in Burma and an end to violence against women and gender inequality
  • Fifty-one yearly Peace Exchanges where women and men come together to discuss conflict and peacebuilding strategies in their communities

The effects of these activities are numerous and far-reaching. Over the past decade, WLB has seen a significant increase in the number of men that attend our trainings and there is a notable shift in the traditional perceptions of gender-roles and gender stereotypes in communities throughout Burma and on the Burma border. The program has also broadened their understanding of community and inner peace and the idea that peace at the national level must begin with peace at the grassroots.

There is evidence that men and women are beginning to understand and acknowledge the importance of women in the peace process and recognize the necessity of their involvement in order to achieve lasting peace in Burma.

Latest activities

Political empowerment

There is a severe lack of improvement in the status of women in Burma that can be understood as two deep-seated and interrelated issues. First, Burma’s society is has deep patriarchal roots that draw on traditional gender roles to exclude most women from participating in the political process and public leadership roles. Second, since the military came to power in 1962, Burma has experienced increased militarization in all sectors of society. This has only further marginalized women in political life and added to the widespread human rights violations that often target women. The PEP Program was established in 2006 and is WLB’s newest program. PEP was developed out of a need to ensure that women are politically active and involved decision making positions in their communities and higher levels of society.

Goal

WLB’s Political Empowerment Program (PEP) seeks to increase women’s participation in politics and decision-making at all levels of society in Burma

Objectives

  • To build capacity of women in the political decision making processes
  • To train young women to become political leaders
  • To increase feminist politicians
  • To raise awareness of women’s political participation in Burma’s society
  • To encourage women to participate actively in the movement for democracy and gender equality

Activities

The need for political awareness is an ever-increasing issue. Therefore, the Political Empowerment Program has adapted quickly to generate the following women’s empowerment initiatives: Political Forums and the Emerging Leaders Political Empowerment School. Each project has specific goals, objectives and achievements, which are listed below.

Political Forums

The Political Forums are held on a monthly basis both inside Burma and on the Burma-border. These forums are chiefly organized and facilitated by our School graduates who then pass on knowledge to grass roots communities to mobilize them for democratic change. In 2011 1390 participants attended the Political Forums with an additional 26 women who gained skills leading, organizing, and facilitating the forums.

Political Empowerment School

Over the last three years, WLB has trained 40 women through our six-month long Emerging Leadership Political Empowerment School, which has given women from WLB member organization the knowledge and skills to be powerful agents of social change  and leadership in Burma. After graduating from the school the women have developed a firm understanding of the interplay between gender and politics at the international, national, and grassroots level as it relates to Burma. Furthermore, these women have acquired the necessary training and skills to analyze current political situations in Burma using relevant theoretical frameworks. This year WLB will hold the school in Thailand and in 2014 WLB plans to hold the school inside Burma.

Latest activities

Women Against Violence

Women of Burma are increasingly vulnerable to violence, including rape and various forms of sexual violence due to the increased militarization and anti-insurgency measures in ethnic states by the Burmese regime. This violence is can be seen to arise from them misogynistic culture that is prevalent in Burma society, even at the state level where policies are implemented that systematically discriminate and marginalize women. This has driven many women to become refugees and migrants in neighboring countries, where they continue to be vulnerable to many forms of violence. Rape and gender-based violence destroys individuals, communities, and the very fabrics that bind a society together. Until women are protected from these horrendous acts of rape and violence under the law and in practice, Burma’s society cannot move forward in the transition to sustainable peace, justice, and democracy.

In 2005, WLB’s 3rd Congress decided to specifically address the issue of VAW as a WLB program, and thus created the Women Against Violence (WAV) Program.  The program aims to build the capacity of women’s organizations so that they are able to carry out action-oriented activities with a feminist perspective, together with other groups in their areas, and WLB as a whole.

Goal

To eliminate Violence Against Women (VAW) by empowering women of Burma at every level of society

Objectives

  • To give practical assistance to women who have suffered any form of violence
  • To raise awareness among men and women in local communities about violence against women (VAW)
  • To raise awareness on VAW and UNSCR 1320 & 1820, CEDAW, and issues of trafficking
  • To empower WLB member and non-member women’s organizations to work together effectively on VAW campaign activities in the community
  • To document cases of VAW and develop strategies for advocacy to end VAW
  • To enable regional working groups to develop their own strategies to address issues of VAW
  • To increasingly raise awareness about the issues of state violence against women in Burma and challenge the Burma government at regional and international levels including at UN level

Activities:

Since 2005, the WAV Program has organized hundreds of community discussions and open dialogue sessions in ethnic areas inside Burma and around its borders. These exchanges bring between 3,000 -4,000 men and women together per year to discuss violence against women and how to end the cycle of violence in their communities. In many areas these discussions were the first time the issue of Domestic Violence had been addressed publicly.

The WAV program provides practical assistance to victims of violence against women in areas inside Burma and along its borders where women experience high levels of violence and a severe lack of resources and assistance. WLB provides a wide variety of services to these women including counseling, negotiation and mediation with abusive partners, medical expense coverage, hospital referrals, safe houses, hospital visits, home visits, providing food, shelter, and crisis assistance, and legal assistance. WLB has established two safe houses, one in New Delhi, India and anther in Mae Sot, Thailand that serve as temporary shelters where women who have suffered domestic abuse can receive practical assistance, counseling, and other services.

Raising awareness is an essential element of the WAV program. To this end, the program organizes activities for Stop Violence Against Women Day, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s Birthday, and International Women’s Day. Documentation and reporting is another critical part of the WAV program. The Program routinely collects women’s stories and data on violence against women and produces reports based on these careful assessments. These reports include a CEDAW Shadow Report in 2008, music videos, TV productions, publications, and audio-visual materials used to raise awareness about VAW.

WAV program is continuing to raise awareness about gender-based violence in communities in Thailand, China and India. To reach our goals more effectively, WLB has begun to shift its focus inside Burma. In 2011, WAV focused efforts on Kachin IDPs along China border and Karen IDPs along Thai border.

Latest activities

Advocacy

The role of the WLB is to be a platform for women of Burma to push for political change in Burma and work for gender equality in society. WLB advocates on behalf of its member organisations representing women and their families in diverse situations, whether inside Burma, displaced to refugee camps or living as undocumented migrant workers in neighbouring countries.

WLB is uniquely positioned to advocate for women and change in Burma because it represents a nexus where grassroots, regional, and international processes meet and connections are made. Our advocacy work connects grassroots communities in and displaced from Burma to global processes and resources through the United Nations and regional forums – and vice versa. The advocacy strategies designed and implemented by the WLB therefore incorporate working at these multiple levels to simultaneously bring the messages of our member organisations to international attention while garnering education, experience, connective relationships and resources to bring back to their related communities.

WLB’s advocacy work is characterised by a dynamism and spatial complexity that crosses many borders and extends in many directions. Principally, however, WLB advocacy strategies are grounded in a belief in inclusive political processes and therefore broad-based social movements inside Burma with support at the international level.

Dimensions of WLB’s advocacy therefore include:

  • Lobbying at the international level
  • Gender education, training and empowerment amongst ourselves and within our communities displaced from Burma
  • Raising gender issues in programs inside Burma

To create understanding on the issue of gender equality within the Burmese democratic movement and society, WLB is working through community-based interventions and actions.

Latest activities

 

 

 

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