By M.S. Anwar | March 11, 2017
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — A Rohingya women organization named ‘Rohingya Women Development Network (RWDN)’, the first women-centric organization of its kind, has been inaugurated here in Kuala Lumpur today (Mar 11).
Members of Rohingya community mostly women and local NGO members participated in the opening ceremony of the organization and several media persons/journalists gave it coverage. The event started at 4:00 PM and ended at around 5:30 PM and was followed by offering meals and handing over small gifts to the Rohingya women attending the ceremony.
The organization has been founded by young Rohingya women including refugee women in Malaysia in order to build leadership capacity in the Rohingya women and create social equality in the Rohingya community in Malaysia, with a view to also influencing the Rohingya community at home. It has many Rohingya women living in and around Kuala Lumpur as its members and shadow members with Ms. Sharifah Shakirah being the founder and director of the organization and Ms. Arifa Sultana being its the co-founder and Secretary.
Ms. Sharifah Shakirah, the director of the RWDN, enthusiastically, while talking to Rohingya Vision TV, said “we want to empower women and solve their domestic problems. We are trying to instill confidence in them that they can play similar roles to men in building society.”
Ms. Sharifah also said that she’s willing to break social stereotypes regarding the Rohingya community and how 2016 was a turn-around year for her.
“Due to due persecutions and dangers surrounding the Rohingya people in Arakan for decades, women have always lagged behind. However, in Malaysia which is better than Myanmar for Rohingya, with empowering women with education and skills, we can change how others see as a whole. We want to break that stereotype.
“And 2016 has triggered me to do something for the Rohingya women in an organized way. They were mostly women that became victims of the violence by the Myanmar military in Arakan.”
According to Ms. Arifa Sultana, the Secretary of the RWDN, the organization is currently focused on women-centric activities like Skills and Livelihoods; Language and Literature; Trainings and Empowerment; Sports; and Charities.
Ms. Arifa said “we are concerned very much about sport. It is a means to boost one’s confidence and identify one’s talents, be it a man or a woman. Through sports, we can identify talents and interests of different girls/women. And we will able to provide them the education of their interests and skills according to their talents to earn them proper livelihoods.”
Ms. Arifa also emphasized that by doing women centric activities, they are not trying to overtake men in the Rohingya society.
“We are not trying to overtake men in terms of playing social roles. What essentially we are trying to do is to empower women so that they can play hands in hands with the men. It’s all important. Men’s supports is also very important. We highly believe they will support our initiative.”
The Rohingya Women Development Network (RWDN) was formed in late December 2016 in the wake of the frequent violence on the Rohingya women in Arakan State, Myanmar, and has been officially launched today. It is determined to educate and empower Rohingya women; and reduce their vulnerability in the hands of the Myanmar armed forces and the human smugglers.
It also collaborates with NGOs in distributing aids to refugees, the refugees to find means for medical treatments and advocate the refugee women in need.
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