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March 13, 2021 Centre for Peace and Justice

On March 8, the Centre for Peace and Justice, Brac University (CPJ) under it’s ‘Bridging Communities in Cox’s Bazar: Mitigating Risks and Promoting Gender, Governance and Localization of Humanitarian Responses in Covid-19 Era’ project hosted this year’s International Women’s Day in CPJ’s field office in Ukhia, Cox’s Bazar district. CPJ colleagues along with 15 hosts and FDMN female volunteers celebrated the occasion with a day-long program commemorating this year’s International Women’s Day theme “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 World”.

The event commenced with opening remarks from Manzoor Hasan, executive director of CPJ where he shared his view on the importance of continuing ‘to ensure equality for women with support from their male counterparts especially since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe the female in Bangladesh has made a significant change in many aspects. We are planning to enhance our activities in FDMN community as well.

This was followed by a few words from Mofaq Kharul Islam Taufiq, Project manager where he gave a special thanks to all members of CPJ in Cox’s Bazar who organized the event. We believe in gender equality and a women-friendly environment in all offices and platforms of CPJ.

The opening session of speeches was concluded by a before a keynote address from Aaishah Karim, monitoring officer. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 World’ and what an apt theme to reflect the everyday attitudes displayed by women in the host and refugee communities here in Cox’s Bazar. The challenges women face, particularly the Rohingya women, in terms of discrimination, early marriages, forced pregnancies, and gender-based violence is an unfortunate reality made worse by the pandemic. That said, “women are strong, determined and resilient beings who learn to adapt to their new realities, and this adaptability allows them to not just survive but fight for their basic rights in order to thrive. These are the qualities that make a trailblazer, a leader.”

The female volunteers then shared their thoughts on what Women’s day meant for them and the importance of gender equality and women-friendly environments in the workplace. Sawkutara, an FDMN community volunteer, said, ‘Women in mainstream society across the world are in fragile conditions. As camp living women, our lives are horrible. There aren’t enough opportunities to prove my leadership and potential since I’m dwelling in the camp. I thank CPJ for hosting this event and where female volunteers can express themselves. I got the opportunity to take part in this type of event for the first time since we were brutally persecuted by the military of Myanmar in 2017.’

Rokeya Begum, a host community volunteer of CPJ said: ‘This is a tremendous opportunity for me as I’m invited here to deliver my speech. I believe the situation of women here in Bangladesh changing with women-oriented legislation undertaken by the Government of Bangladesh. I sincerely would like to show my gratitude and respect to the female pioneers who have ensured young working women, like myself, a female-friendly working environment’.

A series of games and activities took place with our volunteers including musical chairs, a quiz related to women’s rights and equality, followed by a dance competition. A prize-giving ceremony concluded the successful event.

Before ending the day Shakawat Hossain, Field Coordinator of CPJ, said, ‘CPJ Cox’s Bazar team is blessed with more female colleagues than the males. At the same time, we trying to exacerbate our initiatives to move our female colleagues forward in terms of quality as well. We are trying to ensure a female-friendly environment in our field office and Cox’s Bazar Liaison office.’

While celebrating the day CPJ Research Associate Azizul Haque took part in the event virtually and Project Officer Asai Nue Chak and Sukesh Kumar Sarkar, Research Assistant Shung Thui Prue, and Project Assistant Kamru Akter and AKM Ferdous were present among others.