Gender equality is a prerequisite for a sustainable tomorrow, Dr Saleemul Huq has said.

“Women’s rights will be ensured only when gender equality is established. It has been observed that women and girls are disproportionately impacted by the adversities of climate change,” said Dr Saleemul, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD).

He made remarks at the webinar “Women Breaking Biases for Climate Justice,” aligned with International Women’s Day 2022  theme “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow,” organised by ActionAid Bangladesh Sunday ahead of March 8.

Read:UN: Climate change to uproot millions, especially in Asia

Dr Saleemul also mentioned that women’s voices, responsibilities, and knowledge of the environment and the challenges they face need to be the central part of the adaptive response to a rapidly changing climate.

“Although significant progress has been made by women across the globe since countries came into an agreement about the importance of women’s participation in climate action at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, everyone – including young people, scientists, researchers, owners of multinational companies– must play an important role in solving this problem.”

Dr Mahbuba Nasreen, professor and founding director of the Institute of Disaster Management and Vulnerability Studies, University of Dhaka, said when climate-induced disasters hit any community, it is the women and girls who are hit hardest.

“Research shows violence against women increases after a natural disaster because of increased traumatic stress, scarcity of basic supplies, and destruction of authoritative systems.”

Runa Khan, founder and executive director of non-governmental organisation Friendship said: “Most of the char dwellers are climate migrants. Erosion of chars is putting millions of people at health risk. Nevertheless, women are making remarkable differences in their communities. They are participating in decision-making and mobilising themselves to take initiatives to address the ongoing climate crisis.”

Read: Dickson impressed by joint efforts to construct climate-resilient infrastructure in Bangladesh

Farah Kabir, country director of ActionAid Bangladesh, said because of climate change, women in Bangladesh face greater challenges compared to men due to increased sexual harassment during any crisis.

“Increased water-related stresses all over Bangladesh are leading to increased school dropouts of girls and child marriage; tripled burden because of displacement and migration associated with climate change impacts.”

Despite these challenges, she said, women in Bangladesh have demonstrated enormous capacity to respond to emergencies efficiently through increased women empowerment and decision-making ability of women.

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