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In Refugee Camps in India, Rohingya Women Driving Change in Their Communities

“When a girl turns 13 or 14, her family stops sending her to school and lets her do household chores,” says Minara, 30.

She was born in the town of Buthidaung in Burma’s Rakhine State. She is a widow with four children and has lived in India since 2012. She is one of three Rohingya community leaders elected by the inhabitants of the Kalindi Kunj refugee camp in New Delhi. Her work is aimed at tackling a specific problem: the lack of schooling, which in turn creates challenges for the social inclusion of her community.

The Rohingya are an ethnic group, mostly made up of Muslims, who, according to the United Nations (UN), are the most persecuted minority on the planet. They are people who have inhabited Burma, especially the state of Rakhine, for centuries, but are not recognized by the Burmese government, whose constitution denies them citizenship and has deprived them of rights for decades.

Also in 2019, the Women’s Refugee Commission published a study in which it notes that promoting female leadership among Rohingya refugee communities in Bangladesh “provides promising models for transformative change.