You are here

Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, 8 February 2022 - Supported by LGED (Local Government Engineering Department) of the Government of Bangladesh, generously funded by the World Bank and implemented by Mukti Cox’s Bazar, UNFPA, the Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency, opened a new Women Friendly Space - WFS- (called in Rohingya dialect Shanti Khana), a peaceful haven for many thousands of girls and women in the refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar.

Located in Camp 15, around 5,000 women and girls will have free access to recreational activities, such as henna making, painting, drawing, hand-stitching and sewing, as well as gender-based violence awareness-raising sessions and distribution of life-saving dignity kits, containing soaps, washing powder, slippers, clothes, panties and hand sanitisers for COVID-19 protection and prevention.

“We have been on a fruitful journey with UNFPA, dating back to 2008 and working with the Bangladeshi Host community. When the influx happened, we boosted our assistance of protecting women and girls and expanded it to the Rohingya community. We welcome the opening of another space, whose function will be for women to learn about their rights, develop their skills and share their feelings, away from the eyes of men, who will not be allowed in this space” Mr. Bimal Chandra Dey Sarker, Chief Executive of Mukti Cox’s Bazar, shared.

The new Shanti Khana will provide integrated services for women and adolescent girls with case management services for gender-based violence survivors, referral pathways to specialized health interventions, midwifery and family planning services, as well as mental health and psychosocial support.

Secondly, it will be a place for capacity building of NGO caseworkers, as well as effective community mobilization through men, boys and Imams (religious leaders) engagement in preventing gender-based violence. 

“Women play an integral part in the economy and in the community. They know how their community works and, if given chances and opportunities, they can actively participate and contribute to a world free of gender-based violence” Mr. Arjun Jain, Principal Coordinator of the UN Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG) in Cox’s Bazar highlighted “Protection of women and girls must be a priority, and community engagement, including the involvement of Rohingya community volunteers, is essential in creating a world where all women have access to health services, midwifery services and family planning ones”.

“Grateful to the World Bank for its support, providing a place of peace, relief and support to the refugee women, UNFPA believes that the Partnership with the Local Government Engineering Department is unique and an excellent one, allowing the marriage of hardware and software in a place where needed the most” Dr. Eiko Narita, UNFPA Bangladesh Representative a.i stated “As of now, there are nine operational Women Friendly Spaces, and with this funding, two additional ones have been made possible. We have another four pending in construction and for this, LGED’s support in approval would be crucial” she emphasized.

The Additional Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC office) Mr. Mohammad Shamsud Douza participated in the event: “Serving thousands of women and girls in the area, this new space will not only contribute to the well-being of women and girls, but it will benefit the community as a whole” he began “women will be able to come here to find peace, knowledge, share their stories in confidentiality with caseworkers and get midwifery services as well”. 

The event saw the presence of adolescent girls and WFS caseworkers, already ready to enjoy the space on one hand and provide GBV sessions for women, midwifery services and psychosocial support on the other. “It is a safe place, men cannot enter, and girls can share their thoughts and feelings”, Asia, WFS caseworkers said.

A Tour of the newly WFS closed the event and renewed the spirit of collaboration and joint work to respond to the Rohingya protracted refugee crisis, as well as showing solidarity among the Rohingya community in the refugee camps


UNFPA thanks the Government of Bangladesh, the RRRC office- the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Office, the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs for their active engagement and cooperation. UNFPA leads the GBV Sub Sector in Cox’s Bazar and it has 32 established Women Friendly Spaces (24 in the refugee settings and 8 in the host community) and 10 Women-Led Community Centers (8 in the refugee settings, 2 in the host community).