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University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies


Farhana Rahman 2Cambridge International Trust and Murray Edwards Scholarship

Rickety Boats to Refuge(e): Gender, Identity, and Everyday Negotiations of Rohingya Refugee Women

Supervisor: Professor Manali Desai (Department of Sociology)


Through feminist ethnographic research, my doctoral research seeks to explore how forced migration and mass exodus of the Rohingya community to the refugee camps outside of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh has transformed Rohingya gender relations and roles in displacement – specifically, how forced migration has affected the gendered subjectivities and lived experiences of Rohingya refugee women. The theoretical framework of this project lies at the junction of gender studies, anthropology, and studies in forced migration, and will engage with issues such as the body, gender-based violence, culture, victimhood and agency, and social transformation.


I was born in Bangladesh, and raised in Zambia and Canada. I have several years of experience in the gender and development sector, working internationally for various development organizations in the global south. In 2012, I co-founded a non-profit organization – Silkpath Relief Organization ( – that strives to provide humanitarian assistance to individuals and families ravaged and impoverished by calamities, particularly to those that fall outside of traditional streams of international aid – in Afghanistan and on the Rohingya refugee crisis. Since 2014, I have been a consultant and trainer providing technical expertise on gender equality, social policy, education, and legal analysis for various UN Women, UNDP, and USAID projects in South Asia and Africa. In 2015, I helped establish the first academic program in gender studies in Afghanistan, based at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, where I also taught in the area of sociology of gender. I have lived in and worked on projects in a number of countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Germany, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Uganda, and Zambia.

Academic Background:

MPhil (Distinction) in Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies, University of Cambridge (2013-2014)

Honours BA in Peace and Conflict Studies, International Relations, Arabic (Language Citation), University of Toronto (2007-2011)

2021 Paula Kantor Award, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) 


Rahman, F. (2019). “‘I Find Comfort Here’: Rohingya Women and Taleems in Bangladesh’s Refugee Camps.” Journal of Refugee Studies. [Published Online First: July 2019].

Rahman, F. (forthcoming). “Survival as Resistance: Rohingya Refugee Women’s Narratives of Life, Loss, and Hope.” In: Bonnerjee, S. and Maqeda, E. (eds.), Strident Voices, Dissenting Bodies: Subaltern Women’s Narratives. [Publisher TBA].

Rahman, F. (forthcoming). “Women’s Worlds: Vignettes and Memories of Afghanistan.” In: Mendes, P. and Tomás, A. (eds.), Frontier Ethnographies. New York: Berghahn.

Rahman, F. (forthcoming). “Trajectories of Gender Inequality, Identity, and Violent Extremism in Rural Bangladesh.” In: Constructions of Masculinity and Femininity. UN Women and UNDP.

Rahman, F. (2018). “Narratives of Agency: Women, Islam, and the Politics of Economic Participation in Afghanistan.” Journal of International Women’s Studies. 19(3): 60-70.

Rahman, F. (2018). “The Merits and Limits of a Gendered Epistemology: Muslim Women and the Politics of Knowledge Production.” Journal of International Women’s Studies. 19(1): 20-33. [Shortlisted in the Feminist and Women’s Studies Association, UK & Ireland, ‘2017 Student Essay Competition’].

Rahman, F. (2017). “Farkhunda’s Legacy: Gender, Identity, and Shifting Societal Narratives in Afghanistan.” Feminist Review. 117(1): 178-185.

Rahman, F. (2017). “Rights, Roles, and Rural Realities: A Case Study on the Effects of Fatwa Decrees Against Women in Rural Bangladesh.” Muslim World Journal of Human Rights. 14(1): 1-27. [Special Issue on ‘Gender and Islam’].