In Her Own Words

Razia Sultana, Bangladesh

“Being Rohingya, I stress my solidarity and reaffirm my commitment to bringing justice and reparations for victims of sexual violence and peace and dignity for all women.”

Razia Sultana is an international human-rights activist, lawyer, teacher, researcher and activist. She also leads the Rohingya Women Welfare Society (RWWS), an organization supported by WPHF through its COVID-19 Emergency Response Window. RWWS is a women’s led organization established in 2018 which focuses on the empowerment of women and gender-based violence programs in Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh.

“Rohingya women do not dare to dream about education because it is forbidden. Those who cross the limits like me have to face harassment from their community who already live in dark.”

Razia and her organization are working to convince the Rohingya community and others that its time to recognize women’s rights. But change is slow in humanitarian settings where the challenges faced by women are further exacerbated.

“Women and men have different access to resources, power and decision making before, during and after any crisis. Like armed conflict or any disaster, most women and girls are particularly affected because of their status in society.”

Women leaders like Razia and members of RWWS are shifting attitudes around the effectiveness of women’s groups as essential actors in humanitarian and COVID-19 response.

“The continued lack of engagement, investment, and support to local women’s rights organizations by the vast majority of humanitarian actors is a challenge.”

Recently Razia spoke before the UN Security Council during its open debate on sexual violence in conflict and reported about the decades’ long pattern of rape, violence, discrimination, and displacement of Rohingyas and other ethnic people in Myanmar. She and RWWS continue to advocate for Rohingya justice.

“Women are born leaders. Being a mother or a housewife is not a simple task, and this strength starts from your own house – so be strong in your rights.”