Zipporah is the Executive Secretary of the Karen Women’s Organization (KWO), an organization that promotes women’s struggle for freedom, democracy and equality in Burma.
For more than two decades, Zipporah has documented human rights violations committed by the military government, against her ethnic Karen people. Decades of fighting has torn her family apart: she moved constantly in the jungles of eastern Burma, never settling in one place for more than two years.
In Eastern Burma, where Zipporah is from, over 3,000 villages have been destroyed in the last decade and an estimated 500,000 people remain internally displaced. In 2006, more than 25,000 people were displaced in renewed military attacks targeting civilians. Zipporah says that the notion of real “peace” goes far beyond just the end of war. Peace needs to include the participation of women in politics; freedom from domestic violence and access to basic human rights.
Zipporah started safe houses in refugee camps, providing shelter and counseling to women and children facing violence. KWO has over 30,000 members living both inside Burma and in Thailand and elsewhere. Under Zipporah’s leadership, KWO is a key organization providing health, education and humanitarian aid to women and their families in refugee communities in Thailand, on the eastern border of Burma.
Information for this report is provided by Perdita Houston Human Rights Award web site.