DHAKA – An exhibition showcasing artwork from women members of the Rohingya refugee community in Bangladesh opened in the capital Dhaka on Thursday to mark World Refugee Day.
According to the nonprofit Gender in Humanitarian Action, approximately 53 percent of the Rohingya refugee population are women and girls. The largest gender discrepancy in the refugee community can be found among the working age population (18-59), where 55 percent are female.
The event, titled “Rohingya Women’s Art Exhibition and Handicraft Fair,” was organized by GIHA in association with several United Nations bodies, including its refugee agency and other voluntary organizations.
The collection brought together examples of paper art, mural paintings and homemade decor.
It was part of the GIHA effort to provide cross-sectoral support to ensure the integration of gender aspects in humanitarian action for the Rohingya Refugee crisis response.
The working group, co-chaired by UN Women and UNHCR, noted with concern in a report that “humanitarian responses often miss opportunities to transform gender relations through the leadership and empowerment of women and girls in their role as decision makers.”
As such, the exhibition on World Refugee Day highlighting Rohingya women’s artwork and handicrafts was part of its “gender-responsive human rights-based humanitarian actions that meet the needs and priorities of the population in a more targeted (…) effective and efficient manner.”
More than 738,000 Rohingya Muslims are living in refugee camps in Bangladesh since a military crackdown in neighboring Myanmar nearly two years ago triggered a mass exodus.
The majority of fled from Myanmar’s western Rakhine state, where the UN says the military was involved in an ethnic cleansing operation against the Rohingya minority community.
Most of the Rohingya refugees live in harsh conditions in the Kutupalong camp, located close to the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar. It has become the biggest refugee camp in the world.
Although Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement on Nov. 23, 2017, to begin returning Rohingyas, until now the repatriation attempts have failed due to the lack of conditions necessary for a safe and voluntary return of the refugees.