UN: Girls, women worst climate victims in Bangladesh

Experts recommend ensuring gender integration into the climate action plan

The impacts of climate change are not gender-neutral as they affect women and girls most because of societal norms, systematic inequalities and distinctive reproductive obligations in Bangladesh, says a new study.

The findings came in a publication titled “The State of Gender Equality and Climate Change,” which was launched in Dhaka on Thursday.

The publication is mainly the compilation of a series of reports highlighting the linkages between gender equality and climate change in countries across the Asia-Pacific region, has been prepared. 

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), UN Women and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) with financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) jointly readied the assessment report for Bangladesh.

This national dissemination analyses the gendered impacts of climate change and the gendered gaps in sartorial policy and identifies the gaps for gender mainstreaming in four sectors: agriculture, water resource management, forestry and renewable energy. 

At the report-launching event, experts recommended ensuring gender integration into the climate action plan, while stating that both public awareness and gender mainstreaming must be strengthened to achieve sustainable development.

Presenting the report, Jahangirnagar University Professor Sharmind Neelormi, said: “Numerous climatic hazards namely flesh flood, droughts and salinity intrusion disrupt the food production system, disproportionately burdening girls and women with food insecurity.” 

Therefore, due to climate change, the frequency and intensity of natural disasters are increasing and unfortunately, women are bearing the burdens of such environmental harm, she added. 

Farhina Ahmed, secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said that different ministries will find it difficult to translate the report in line with different gender names and aspects. 

“Therefore, to ensure that every development program is gender-responsive, we need to create toolkits—developing evidence-based research and database is crucial to transfer this knowledge into implementation,” she said.

Diya Nanda, the deputy country representative of UN Women, suggested that the issues of gender budgeting and financial allocation be looked into before policy-making. 

“It is crucial to create strong collaboration and coordination among different ministries and departments related to climate change and gender equality to ensure sustainable and gender-responsive climate action in Bangladesh,” she concluded.

Mozaharul Alam, regional coordinator of UNEP’s climate change programme, and Martinez Backstrom, first secretary (environment and climate change) of the Swedish embassy in Dhaka, also addressed the event.