Putting the Lives of Refugee Women Back on Track

Tanma Federation was formed in 2010 by 3 ethnic Burmese women refugee groups in Malaysia, Mang Tha, Kaopro and Chin Women Organization.

“Tanma” means strong in Burmese. Tanma runs livelihood programmes for refugee women based on Fair Trade and cooperative principles. Through Tanma, several social projects including livelihood trainings, addressing gender-based violence, language classes for refugee women and education programmes for refugee children are run. At the core of Tanma is self- empowerment of refugee women.


  • To be a world-wide fair trade cooperative run by and for refugee women, committed to giving a chance to the most vulnerable women to be economically independent and to participate in decision making
  • To empower women to build peace and harmony and to bring change in our environment


  • To build solidarity among women
  • To protect women artisans’ rights as workers and as women
  • To run a fair trade cooperative
  • To help other women’s groups join the federation

Recognizing the critical need for livelihood opportunities, Tanma works with Burmese refugee women to develop a sustainable income-generating programme, which includes:

  • Consistent training on livelihood skills
  • Continuous English language lessons
  • Business & marketing skills development
  • Financial literacy training
  • Livelihoods project management

Tanma members also support each other in networking and marketing – which is imperative for the survival of livelihood programmes. Through Tanma, refugee women are learning their rights, owning it and asserting their rights to ensure that they are protected. Tanma understands that women’s human rights cannot advance without education and understanding of one’s rights and the creation of spaces to claim ones rights.

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