Support to Earth Rights International Alumni Projects (2010)

August 1, 2010

Refugee Empowerment International has funded EarthRights International alumni small projects with great success for a number of years. The ERS Alumni programme was established to assist its graduates in pursuing opportunities to build a strong and independent base in preparation for return to Burma is the focus of this funding support request.

The following project will be supported for the 1st round of funding FY 2010/11.

Peace Building Training for Women sponsored by Palaung Women’s Organization

This project will support 20 young women from different villages in the Palaung area, Burma to attend peace building training for a week on the China/Burma border. The course will cover the following subjects during the 5 day residential course; human rights, peace and forgiveness, the impact of conflict and violence and education about how to protect the local environment. After the course the participants will share their learning within their communities, reaching out to a further 90 women.

Women in Palaung areas are being subjected to human rights violations without any protection so there is no peace in Palaung areas. Land and natural resource management practices are ignored and destroyed when the military moves into ethnic areas, people are struggling for survival. The women are especially affected by these actions because they have even fewer of their human rights recognised than men because of cultural beliefs that subject them to discrimination.

After the 5 day training course, participants will return to their villages and share their learning with other women in the community. The women will be empowered to bring about a positive impact in their community and on their environment. The course trainers will keep in touch with the participants to monitor the impact of the training within the community and continue working with these women when further opportunities for training become available, so that their skills, knowledge, and leadership continue to grow.

Additional information

The Palaung people are an ethnic group living in Northern Shan State, Burma. There are over 1 million Palaung people living in Palaung land, and most of them live in mountainous areas surrounding the central plain. The Palaung people’s way of life very much depends on the natural environment for basics such as food and medicine.

There are many human rights abuses happening in Palaung State, including forced labour and forced relocation, land confiscation, rape and sexual violence against Palaung women and destruction of natural resources.

EarthRights International founded the first EarthRights School (ERS) in Thailand in 1998 catering to refugees from Burma, teaching the skills necessary to actively participate in rebuilding their societies both outside and within Burma.