Gender in Humanitarian Action Brief No. 3 – Marking International Women’s Day: Rohingya Refugee Crisis Response Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh (as of 8 April 2018)
Developed by the Gender in Humanitarian Action Working Group co-chaired by UN Women and UNHCR with technical support from inter-agency GENCAP.
The celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) in refugee camps and host community in Cox’s Bazar on Thursday 8 March 2018 was a joint event and acknowledgement by the humanitarian community of women and girls’ needs, vulnerabilities, barriers, capacities and voices. The event underscored the need to integrate gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in interventions across all sectors of humanitarian response for Rohingya refugees and host communities in Bangladesh.
IWD events led by GiHA Working Group members and their humanitarian partners, showcased women and girls’ capacity to exercise agency and contribute to making choices to transform their lives.
BRAC and ADRA led events in Camps 3, 4 (PP, OO, II DD zones) and Charkmarkul spontaneous site, calling for meaningful inclusion of women and girls in all aspects of camp life.
Calling attention to their current refugee status, Rohingya women appealed for family members to be kept together, which they said, “would enhance their safety and demand for justice”.
The women also made calls for justice over torture and atrocities they suffered in Myanmar. While appealing for the Rohingya people to be officially recognized as citizens of Myanmar, they called for birth registration of their children and their population census. They also demanded higher education opportunities and equal rights to higher education. The women’s demand for the right to practice Islam as their own religion came along with calls for freedom to receive formal religious education and to practice associated religious festivals, e.g. Ramadan, Eid, and removal of taxes levied on religious and other festivals, such as marriage.
In anticipation of the possibility of going back to their homeland in Rakhine in Myanmar, the women called for their relatives who were “unfairly arrested and are currently in Myanmar prisons to be freed”. Demanding compensation and reparations, they said, Myanmar government must return their properties, land and ornaments, which were forcefully taken away from them. They said that, as citizens, “we want freedom of movement through all Myanmar’s cities and towns” and called for “access to employment opportunities for our own people, the young and the next generation.”