From where I stand: “As an outspoken women’s rights activist, I have gained the confidence necessary to help Rohingya women from similar backgrounds as mine”

Women’s rights activist Lucky fled from armed conflict in Myanmar and is now living in a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. She is committed to improving the lives of Rohingya women and girls in the camps, particularly by advocating for their rights to education and decision-making.

“Having to flee from armed conflict in Myanmar has changed my perspective on life. My father was in jail as a political prisoner when we fled, so I had to take a lot of responsibility for my family. These experiences first created a wound but are now giving me strength to work for my community and to help Rohingya women get a better life.

I have been living in a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar for three years now. As an outspoken women’s rights activist, I have gained the confidence necessary to help Rohingya women from similar backgrounds as mine. Women are facing many problems in the camps, including sexual and gender-based violence, and limited decision-making power due to illiteracy. There are multiple obstacles for Rohingya women to access quality education, with the result that they do not even know about their rights. The only way to overcome these issues is to enable women to go to school. To me, education is the most powerful tool to solve problems.

After coming to Bangladesh and meeting with humanitarians from different countries, I realized how important education is to survive. Without education, we cannot raise our voices and address concerns. To motivate Rohingya women to study, I am gathering women and girls in the camps to share my thoughts and experiences on the importance of education. During COVID-19, when we could not meet in groups, I used the phone to discuss the benefits of studying, such as being able to get a job and earning your own money. Some of the women get angry with me and say, “Oh Lucky! You are different,” but many agree with what I am saying. Just like them, I have also fled from armed conflict in Myanmar, which makes them listen to me.

My days in the camps are often very busy. I am working as a volunteer teacher while focusing on my own university studies. I have also developed an awareness course on basic menstrual hygiene, child marriage, pregnancy, mental health and protection for Rohingya women. At the same time, I help with taking care of my family. Thankfully, my father is now back living with us in the camps.

My name is Lucky, and I am lucky. I have managed to study remotely at the University, even though I live in a refugee camp, and my parents always respect my opinion and are proud of my achievements. I want to continue focusing on my studies, but in the future, I would like to become a political leader and work for Rohingya women’s rights. For women, peace, justice and human rights are the three most important things in life. We have to raise our voices, share our problems and seek support to overcome them. I want to continue helping women in my community, especially in ensuring that every girl has access to education so that she can follow her dreams, just like me.”

SDG 5: Gender equalitySDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

Lucky is an 18-year-old Rohingya refugee, survivor of armed conflict who fled to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, from Rakhine State, Myanmar, in August 2017. She is now studying politics, philosophy and economics at Asian Women University remotely and has worked as a volunteer (for BRAC CPJ, IOM and UN Women to support research and community engagement initiatives). She is a community youth leader engaged in women’s and youth civil society networks for peace, ending gender-based violence and promoting girls’ education in her community in the camps, while advocating for peace for her people. Lucky’s story demonstrates Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, which aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies, and SDG 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment.