Experts have called for highlighting women's strength and achievements in combating climate change, rather than portraying them as mere victims of natural calamities.
They expressed their opinions in this regard at a virtual discussion on "Untold Tales of Women Champions in Climate Change," which was jointly organised by UN Women and the International Center for Climate Change and Development on 23 January, 2021 at the Annual Gobeshona Conference 2021.
"Women are disproportionately vulnerable to the effects of climate change that are worsening gender-based disparities. In most cases, women and girls are merely labelled in the passive category, as 'victims.' They are certainly not depicted and highlighted as active players joining men and others in fighting back negative consequences of climate change, reducing disaster risks, and building community resilience," read a press release from UN Women Bangladesh.
UN Women held the dialogue to bring a paradigm shift into the narratives by highlighting the strength and achievements of women in combating climate change, rather than portraying women and marginalised people as solely victims.
The session brought together women leaders from the: rural, urban, local, national, regional, and global level in the fight against the climate change crisis. It aimed to share their inspirational stories and encourage young women with potential to carry forward the legacy.
During the session, six untold stories of grassroots women champions were projected from the Satkhira, Khulna and Kurigram regions of Bangladesh.
They were playing versatile roles – such as climate protestor, reporter, disaster preparedness leader, women entrepreneur, and reformer – in their locality to fight for women's empowerment and confront climate change.
The stories focused on their: aspirations, battles, struggles, obstacles, and achievements.
They highlighted that people have created discrimination among genders in society. It was not predetermined, therefore, there should be no injustice in terms of men and women.
In this regard, Masura Parvin, unit leader of the Cyclone Preparedness Program, Satkhira, said, "I can do the work of 10 men alone. People say I have no fear. During cyclone Bulbul, I was the only woman volunteer who worked outside with all the men in the middle of the disaster and I even carried disabled children on my shoulder and took them to cyclone shelter with me."
Saima Wazed, founder of the Shuchana Foundation and thematic ambassador of Climate Vulnerable Forum, chaired the session.
Prof Saleemul Huq, director of International Centre for Climate Change and Development; Khushi Kabir, social activist; Ashrafunnahar Misti from Women with disabilities Development foundation; Afroza Begum Alpona, vice chairman of Kurigram Sadar; Jannatul Mawa, executive director of BINDU Nari Unnayan Shongothon from Satkhira; Masura Parvin, Unit Leader of Cyclone Preparedness Program Satkhira; Farida Easmin, executive director of Nari Association for Revival and Initiative, Kurigram; Lipika Rani Boiragi, executive director of Association for Social Development and Distressed Welfare, Khulna, and Jahida Jahan Mou, reporter of Dokkhiner Moshal, Satkhira, spoke as panelists at the programme.
Dilruba Haider, in charge of the UN Women Bangladesh Country Office, moderated the session.
The participants and the discussants at the programme strongly agreed with the findings from the video series that a woman cannot develop herself despite having a bright future and talent if she does not receive proper support from her society. It requires an enabling environment. Therefore, the development of a woman means the development of a family, society and country.