From where I stand: “Women need support from each other to cope with this crisis”

The Rohingya crisis started decades ago, but the intensity and the influx of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh since last year has been unprecedented. Nur Nahar is a Rohingya woman in her thirties, who has lived in a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh since she was seven years old. Today she is working as a mentor to newly arriving Rohingya women refugees as part of a UN Women-supported programme.


Noor Nahar. Photo: UN Women/Allison Joyce
Nur Nahar. Photo: UN Women/Allison Joyce

I came to Bangladesh many years ago. I was only seven years old and all I remember is crossing the river on a boat. My mother said that the Myanmar military had killed my nine-year-old brother, so we had to leave our home.

I used to think that one day Myanmar will take us back and the violence will stop. But I don’t see any improvement of the situation in Myanmar. The military torture is worse and the number of Rohingyas fleeing is much more than what it was during our time. I have heard that many villages in Myanmar are now empty.

Being a refugee myself, I know the struggles that other Rohingya women face in the camps. I come to the Multi-Purpose Women’s Centre four days in a week and teach tailoring to the women who are new. Since I have been here for a long time, I am part of the Women Support Group and I provide information to other refugee women, refer them to appropriate services, and I talk to them. Women need support from each other to cope with this crisis.

They also need some practical things, like menstrual hygiene kits, veils to wear because otherwise they cannot go outside their homes, lighting in the camps and more skills training so that women can earn some income. Those who have completed the tailoring course for example, need sewing machines and materials so that they can start making and selling products.

If the women who are new get support from us, they can support each other better.

I don’t know what will happen… but I want a better future for my children, I want to live in peace.”

SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth
SDG 10: Reduced inequalities

Nur Nahar, now 35, left her home in Bolibazar, Myanmar some 28 years ago. She was just a child at the time and had hoped to return to Myanmar one day. Now she lives in the Kutupalong registered camp in Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh and has decided to support other Rohingya women refugees by teaching them tailoring and motivating them to learn new skills. Her story reveals the protracted nature of the Rohingya refugee crisis and shows the need for sustained services for women, such as those provided by a UN Women-supported programme, so that they are able to support themselves and each other. Her story relates to the Sustainable Development Goals on promoting decent work and productive employment for all (SDG 8) and on facilitating safe migration and mobility of people (SDG 10) impact women on the ground.