We women foundation

We women is a foundation that strives to achieve equality for various groups of people in the world. The foundation assists women, refugees, ethnic minorities, and disadvantaged groups with their questions, struggles and needs, as they are formulated within their own terms. Academic research is the first step in this process because it helps to gain insight into local beliefs, practices and ambitions. The key areas of We women's engagement include personal growth, social inclusion, (mental) health, education, and the encouragement of creative initiatives, with the ultimate goal of achieving equality for all. The We women foundation has been based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, since 2010, wher...
Apr 11, 2016

Learn More About Our Successful Alumni Pao Hom

Pao Hom spreading the word about the peace process
Pao Hom spreading the word about the peace process

We women alumni Pao Hom is a great example of a hardworking talented woman who is achieving great things. She graduated two years ago and has worked so hard since then. She can now participate in the actual peace dialogue that is held between the government, political parties, and ethnic armed groups. She has pressed for women participation and gender as an agenda point, and is now working with UN women to organise roundtable discussions, with women who can participate in the process.

Pao Hom has worked hard to get where she is now, and has inspired many along the way. This is her story:

Pao Hom was raised by an aunt in Shan State after het parents were forced to flee Myanmar to escape forced labour. From an early age, Pao Hom was bored with her studies and knew the Burmese educational system needed a complete overhaul. Despite her criticism Pao Hom earned a Bachelor’s degree in Myanmar. In search of educational opportunities she decided she needed to go to Thailand. To make this possible she worked at her aunt’s shop, and once in Thailand had several jobs before she came in contact with We women.

With the help of We women Pao Hom pursued her Masters’ degree in Educational Management. As she always felt constrained by the Burmese educational system and still dreamt of better education for her and her fellow students in Myanmar, Pao Hom decided to contribute to making a change in the educational system at grassroots and political level: ‘It is crucial for the Burmese educational system to improve its curriculum, and it is my hope to one day work for the Burmese Educational Administrative Department so that I can make changes from within.’ While studying, Pao Hom volunteered with the internally displaced and migrant populations in Thailand. She firmly believes that. “Through a more creative curriculum, we can encourage children to think for themselves, share their opinions, and learn to follow their aspirations.” Since then Pao Hom has trained up to 100 teachers in critical thinking skills, that has improved the education of over 700 students from Myanmar.

After she graduated, Pao Hom worked as a technical assistant in Chiang Mai’s Pyidaungsu Institute for Peace and Dialogue. The organisation works with different key stakeholders related to the peace process. They make connections and share information with civil society organisations in different states and regions of Myanmar.

Her current role with UN Women working on the peace dialogue is a great achievement and We women futher plans to work with her to engage their almuni and network on gender equality issues in the near future. Although she is not working on education per se, she is able to make in important contribution to change and gender equality by working across stakeholder to build a more sustainable and equitable peace process for Myanmar.

Feb 4, 2015

Gratitude and Goodwill: Our Campaign Wrap-up

Graduation party for We women students
Graduation party for We women students

We women foundation has a lot to celebrate. Our most recent online campaign, "Educate One, Empower Thousands", was the most successful campaign in our organization’s history. With your support, we raised a total of €14,650! This amount is 83.7% more than what we raised for our programs during last year’s campaign. We are still waiting to hear back from additional corporate donors, and expect that the coming weeks will put us over our initial target of €20,000.

We wish to extend a special thanks to our corporate sponsors to date, Shannon Passero and Cleaner Climate, for their generous donations and enthusiasm for our cause. We also wish to express our gratitude to Carol Grodzins, who won our prize for being the highest donor during the crucial final week of our campaign. Finally, we are so grateful to all of our networks, friends, and family members who graciously offered their time, money, and support—without people like you, this campaign would not have been possible.

One of the aspects of this campaign that made it extra unique and meaningful was that volunteers all over the world helped us to actively spread awareness regarding women’s issues in Myanmar by hosting screenings of our original documentary: Emerging Women of Burma. Jane’s Kitchen held the first event of the campaign here in Chiang Mai on November 23. Additional screenings were hosted by one of Burma’s most popular art galleries—Pansodan Scene in Yangon, as well as by Leigh McMaster in Auckland, New Zealand, Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin (USA), and Nick McGrath of Rear Windows in Bangkok.

We women foundation has also been increasing our presence on the web. We reached 2,000 “likes” on Facebook early on in the campaign, and currently stand at 2,230. On Twitter, we gained 35 new followers during the campaign, and presently have a total of 770. We expect these numbers to steadily incline, and are pleased that so many other NGOs, news outlets, and individuals are interested in our organization’s activities and the news stories that we find relevant.

All of these accomplishments have further increased our optimism regarding the future of our organization and, more broadly, the future of women’s leadership in Burma.

From Carol Grodzins
From Carol Grodzins
Phong Wan, studying Politics, Philosophy and Econ
Phong Wan, studying Politics, Philosophy and Econ
We women team at our 1st screening of the campaign
We women team at our 1st screening of the campaign
Strategic Planning Meeting, 2015: Maria and Num Ay
Strategic Planning Meeting, 2015: Maria and Num Ay
Lawnt Ying, social science at Chiang Mai Univ.
Lawnt Ying, social science at Chiang Mai Univ.
Mar 19, 2014

Emerging Women of Burma: Final Report

We women founder launches the Documentary
We women founder launches the Documentary

March 14th, 2014 marked the end of We women foundation’s immensely successful Emerging Women of Burma campaign. The campaign aimed to raise awareness of the continuing struggles for women in Burma, to highlight the incredible work already being done inside Burma and to provide support for the work of We women  foundation. All together the campaign raised over US$ 11,800, attracted the attention of international media and engaged a wide range of stakeholders including We women students, local and foreign supporters, and rights advocates from Burma.

The campaign culminated in the launch of We women foundation’s first documentary project, Emerging Women of Burma, which chronicles the difficulties and triumphs of seven emerging women leaders in Burma. The aim of the documentary was to bring awareness to the international audience about the outstanding work of women who are rarely on the front pages of newspapers and also to inspire the next generation of women leaders.

The Documentary

In June 2013 We Women Foundation began the search for women community leaders within Burma. The call for nominations was sent out to a broad cross section of CBOs and BGOs both on the Thai/Burma border and inside Burma. They came back with great responses, 25 nominations in total. We women foundation then set out to contact the nominees. This proved difficult as many of the women work in remote areas and do not often have access to telephones, Internet or mail. After much deliberation, seven incredible women were selected to be showcased in the documentary.

The seven women chosen hold a range of positions: one a Member of Parliament, others NGO leaders and community activists. All of the women are beacons of hope for the future of Burma. Their stories, ranging from overcoming lack of support for educating girls to economic desperation that led to the difficult decision to become a sex worker, to becoming empowered women committed to doing work for the benefit of the community, are incredibly powerful.

The Dutch company Vamos Bien graciously funded the making of the documentary. With their funding, the small film crew was sent to Burma in November 2013, where they spent two weeks filming and conducting interviews. The raw footage was then edited, translated into English and finally completed in March 2014. The 45-minute documentary was launched in Chiang Mai as the highlight of the fundraising campaign, to help bring awareness and bolster support for rising women leaders. The documentary will be released in the Netherlands in Summer 2014.

Emerging Women of Burma Events

Throughout the course of the Emerging Women of Burma campaign, We women foundation staff, volunteers and friends collaborated to host awareness and fundraising events around the world.

Jenelle in New York City incorporated a creative We women donation sock into her New Year’s Eve party and a family in the Netherlands donated their Christmas card budget to the foundation.  Additionally, students at St. Swithun’s Winchester in the UK donated proceeds from their cake walk towards the campaign.

Melissa Waters, a We women fundraising volunteer based in North Queensland, Australia rallied the support of her community to put on an art auction supporting the foundation. The auction featured 85 works of art from North Queensland’s local artists, attracted attention from the community’s radio and newspaper outlets and interested over 50 donors in We women foundation’s work.

At the We women headquarters in Chiang Mai, we held a dinner and silent auction to introduce our local friends to the aspirations of the Emerging Women of Burma campaign. The night of the silent auction was great fun, with many of Chiang Mai’s luxury hotels, restaurants and shops generously donating their goods and a large number of supporters coming out to share in abundant food, prizes, and discussion about the campaign’s key issues.

Awareness Raising Successes

The Emerging Women of Burma documentary launch was the capstone to the whole campaign and a wonderful closing celebration. The documentary premiered to an audience of over 85 people at Chiang Mai’s dedicated documentary film center, Documentary Arts Asia. Following the screening, the packed house engaged We women founder, Ursula Cats, and filmmaker, Jai Jai, in a Q&A session about the women featured and issues raised in the film. We women foundation students also viewed the Emerging Women of Burma documentary at a special screening and shared their thoughts. It is clear from the discussions that followed in each case that the documentary is educational, thought provoking, and inspiring. Our students identified with the struggles that the women leaders retold and expatriate audience members were moved by the opportunity to put a face to the repression they have only abstractly heard about. As a whole, viewers of Emerging Women of Burma are convinced of the potential that the young women in Burma hold for creating a safer, more equitable and more prosperous future for their country.

We women foundation is incredibly excited to continue to share the documentary, spreading more insight and inspiring more support for women’s education and leadership in Burma along the way. Already we have seen a great response from the international community, due in large part to the media outlets that have championed the campaign’s mission. The Daily Beast touted “Burma’s Emerging Female Activists are Ready to Lead,” Yahoo Shine profiled two We women students hot on the path to becoming key social leaders in Burma, and Just Means and WINGS: Women’s International News Gathering Service linked We women foundation and the Emerging Women of Burma documentary to the global push for increased opportunities for women. Regional news outlets with particularly high influence in Myanmar and Southeast Asia, including Democratic Voice of Burma, the Irrawaddy, and Mizzima News, also published stories about We women and the documentary.

As the Emerging Women of Burma campaign comes to a close, We women foundation feels proud and encouraged by the increased enthusiasm and interest alertness that the campaign’s activities have garnered for women’s issues in Burma. Bolstered by the financial and intellectual support of the campaign, we will continue to support young women in their pursuit of meaningful educational and career objectives and enhance promotion of women’s leadership in this time of great opportunity for Burma.

We women staff and students view the documentary
We women staff and students view the documentary
 

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