Tansima, a 28-year-old elected deputy bloc leader at the world’s largest refugee settlement housing 620,000 inhabitants, is advocating for enhanced street lighting to improve safety and accessibility. Highlighting the significance of lighting for safer trips to latrines and extended operating hours for shops, Tansima’s initiative reflects the broader empowerment of Rohingya refugee women in Bangladesh. These women are emerging as influential community figures, undertaking roles from governance to education and infrastructure development.

Denied basic rights and education in her native Myanmar, Tansima’s leadership position within the camp is a notable departure from her past. Representing over 6,200 individuals, she convenes with fellow residents to address their needs, ranging from aid distribution to recreational facilities for children. Collaborating with other elected leaders, she ensures the community’s concerns and suggestions are communicated to the Bangladeshi authorities and supporting aid agencies.

Tansima’s journey from a life of restrictions in Myanmar to a respected community leader in Bangladesh underscores a significant transformation. With the support of her husband, Selim, who values her contributions to both their family and the wider community, Tansima exemplifies the critical role women play in refugee communities. Her efforts, supported by UNHCR, signify a move towards greater inclusion and empowerment of women in refugee settlements, fostering a sense of dignity and community cohesion.