For Rimu Sultana Rimu, literacy is always her mission. For this young Rohingya activist now living in one of the world’s largest refugee camps — Cox’s Bazar (Bangladesh) — education is what gives power to women and children.
For Rimu, education is all that can empower a woman. Most of the time women lack the same right as that of men. She believes that peaceful and strong society was not possible if women and girls are not treated same as men. And it was her strong determination and fight for the refugee women that led the UN Women to have her named as one among the other leaders in the 20 Years of Women, Peace, and Power of UN Women on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325.
She is a member of the Young Women for Leadership (YWL) network in Cox’s Bazar. YWL is part of the Global Network of Women Peace builders in partnership with the local women’s rights organization Jago Nari Unnayan Sangsta and supported by UN Women. As part of encouraging women and children, she was instrumental in running workshops on women and youth participation in peace building. She also plays a major role in educating young women about their rights using several media such as radio and theatre.
In the midst of women facing lot of challenges, Rimu always felt that it was her duty to make life easier for the girls and women. She remembers that she felt criticism and even protest from the people, even from her family members when she started to speak for women’s rights. They said that Rimu was disrespecting the religion and was behaving out of the way. But as the protest grew, she felt to take it as a challenge.
Rimu said that most of the women and children in her community were not able to read or write. As such, they were not aware of their rights. Rimu could see that many of the girls were forced to leave the school at a very young age. And the thought that education can help the women and girls know better their rights was that made Rimu take up the challenge of educating the women and girls of her community.
With Covid 19, she says that the situation has worsened for the women and girls. Several children are out of school and also the pandemic has made it difficult to reach the women and girls in destruction,