Many women left Burma following their husbands to escape extreme poverty, civil wars and human rights abuses in their country. The countrywide economic crisis has driven women and girls throughout Burma into migrant labor. They come looking for work in Thailand, with the aim to send money back to Burma to support their parents and children who may still live there. Yet once in Thailand, most of the women cannot work legally and the only jobs they can have access to involve unsafe and hazardous conditions.
A lot of Burmese migrant women are unaware of their rights and lack crucial information on the services they could have access to. Their vulnerabilities are twofold, first as migrants and then as women. As most of them don't speak the Thai language, their employers or the people they turn to for help can easily abuse them. In addition, as women, they face even greater challenges than male migrant workers. They are generally paid less than men and more vulnerable to domestic violence, sexual exploitation, and trafficking.
In 2006, FED established the Women’s Empowerment and Development Association (WEDA). WEDA has become a focal point among the Burmese women of the area, offering counsel and support and organizing different activities to promote women’s empowerment. WEDA organizes workshops about health education, family planning, domestic violence, and women's rights. In addition, WEDA offers different types of vocational training courses, which not only give the women more employable skills, but it also offers the women a safer, more reliable alternative means to earning an income to support their families. Once women learn these working skills, they can work on these activities at home or at the center. These income-generating activities also serve to maintain the center so that WEDA can continue to operate as a self-sustained association.
As of 2012 with funding support from CCFD Terre Solidaire and the European Union, The Women from WEDA conduct regular Rights Based Gender Related Workshops in heavily migrant populated districts. As part of the gender related workshops, the four main topics are: access to health care, women's rights, labor rights, and violence against women. Each topic is aimed at improving community awareness and empowerment. Accordingly, WEDA members conduct two community visits per month to these migrant communities to both maintain awareness and connection with the needs of the women, as well as suggest answers to their problems with appropriate actions. Materials expanding awareness on gender and rights-based migrant issues are be distributed. The visits also provide the opportunity to document and report cases of abuse.