On 16th July 2019, UN Women Bangladesh - in partnership with Oxfam in Bangladesh, ActionAid Bangladesh, Legal Action Worldwide and RW Welfare Society-RWWS - invited the UN Resident Coordinator and organized a gathering of Rohingya Women Leaders from new and old camps representing their different women’s leader networks, both some self-organised and some organized in collaboration with INGOs/UN, in the UN Women Multi-Purpose Women Centre in the Rohingya refugee camp 4, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh to discuss common challenges, issues, demands and how to come together under one network to plan joint action to address these together for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
"If men have two arms, women have two arms too. We didn’t know we have rights before, but we have now learned about equality and discrimination, and will demand that our rights be respected” said one Rohingya Women leader. “I am so happy to be able to express myself like this today”, said another with a big smile on her face.
One Rohingya woman leader explained that the challenge they face is sometimes men from the community “you are a Muslim woman, why are you doing these things? It is written in the Quran that women shouldn’t do these things” they tell us. I then sit with them and tell them “Okay, show me, where is it written?” Because I think they are interpreting it differently and I believe that women work even in Saudi Arabia, so why cannot we work?”
These Rohingya leaders fight dowry, child marriage, domestic violence, polygamy as well as conflict related sexual and gender based violence and overall injustices and barriers Rohingya women and girls face and promote their right to justice, education, services, decision making and economic opportunities.