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In Brief: January - March 2020: Updates from UN Women Cox's Bazar

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Spotlight: Women Frontline Workers mobilize to prevent COVID-19 in crowded Rohingya refugee camps

Mobina Khatun (45 -year-old) is one of the 40 Rohingya Women Volunteers working with UN Women to mobilize their communities on crucial issues within different camps in Ukhiya. “To prevent this disease, we need to provide more awareness on personal cleanliness, hand washing and the do’s and don’ts when one has a cough or a cold. If we can raise more awareness, everyone will be safe”. Mobina worries that COVID-19 will have a very bad impact on femaleheaded households in the camps due to prevailing social norms and women’s traditional role as primary caregiver. She said, “We are afraid because we have nothing and there is additional restriction here from the authority. As we live in a very congested area, if there is limited access to medical treatment and the virus comes here, we all will die. So, we need sufficient hygiene materials like soap and mask along with doctors and nurses”. Despite the gendered risks and barriers that women and girls face in camps in Cox’s Bazar, Rohingya women leaders have self-mobilised and formed their own networks through which they are conducting awareness raising sessions on covid-19 for women across the camps.
As of now 2,863 community members have been reached.

Nurussafa, another Rohingya Women Volunteer, says her community has shown appreciation for her work: “What you are doing is very good, we now have the information on covid-19 and how to prevent it. By following your advice, we can protect ourselves”.

UN Women is supporting these women leaders and our Gender Officer seconded to Camps-in-Charge in 12 refugee camps. They are our field gender champions who are advocating to ensure the voices of Rohingya women and girls are heard, their demands are met, needs addressed, and rights protected.

Mani Elizabeth Chakma is one of UN Women’s Gender Officer working in camps 3, 4 and 4 extension. This has been her experience working in the camps during the covid-19 pandemic: “It has been very hard to do regular field visits since the beginning of the pandemic. Because covid-19 is a dangerous and life-threatening disease, measures have been put in place by the government to limit movements to the camps. Every day we go to the camps where my role is to support awareness raising amongst women and girls, so they can protect themselves from covid-19.