Paung Ku provides both technical and financial support to KyWO as it works within Shan, Kachin, Kayah States and Naypyitaw Union Territory to enhance women’s engagement in decision-making.
This ongoing work has seen Paung Ku’s gender and diversity advisor provide mentoring and support in use of PAR to a) explore Kayan women’s experiences of community decision-making; b) reflect on those experiences; and c) make plans to generate positive change.
As a result, Kayan women themselves have identified lack of experience and lack of confidence about speaking out in public as a major challenge.
KyWO’s volunteers are using PAR as a way to help themselves and others to build that experience and confidence. In September 2018, the advisor and other Paung Ku staff travelled to Pekon, Shan State to run a PAR workshop for 10 KyWO volunteers and two KyWO staff members. Between them, these women came from nine villages that are hard-to-reach, have limited or no infrastructure, are of low development standard, and are highly conservative. KyWO selected these villages in response to previous work carried out as part of this project on identifying inequity between Kayan communities (thereby contributing to Paung Ku’s value of prioritizing marginalized communities.)
The volunteers were aged between 18 and 34, were mainly single, had all expressed an interest in promoting equal opportunity for women but had no or very limited experience of participation in decision-making outside of the home.
The purpose of the workshop was two-fold: to share lessons learned from an initial PAR discussion organised by KyWO volunteers in Hwari Khu village; and to help build participants’ self-confidence by giving them the chance to practice speaking out in a group, asking questions, and leading group work.
During the three-day workshop, all KyWO volunteers were also supported to explore their own fears and anxiety about speaking out in their communities, as well as to develop their own ‘action plan’ for countering these fears and anxieties.
The workshop concluded with all present committing to undertake discussions in their own communities, and to support each other in this wherever possible with the assistance of KyWO staff members.
A follow-up workshop will be held in early December, at which all volunteers will be brought back together to explore their experiences of holding discussions, reflect on these experiences, and make further plans for building on positive outcomes and tackling challenges faced. Paung Ku’s commitment to this project is part of our commitment to a pluralistic society, as well as to ways of working that are grounded in people’s existing capacities.