With equality for all, the union will be stronger

Karen Women Organisation

Naw K’nyaw Paw, Secretary of the Karen Women’s Organization, describes her work to empower women and explains the Karen people’s decades-long struggle for equality in Myanmar.

I am a refugee from Karen state in southeastern Burma. My parents fled Burma after the government started what they called the ‘Four Cuts’ strategy against ethnic armed groups in the late 1970s, which meant cutting off villagers’ food, supplies and communications in order to isolate them. The army was fighting against the Karen National Union (KNU) and kept attacking our areas. The situation was so difficult for my parents – they couldn’t survive there, so they fled to the Thai-Burma border.


I was born along the Salween River on the border between Thailand and Burma. I grew up between the two countries, going back and forth across the border. Mostly my parents stayed in Burma, but

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