Bangladesh is one of the most climate change affected countries in the world, with rising sea levels and looming climate crises presenting an enormous challenge. As the effects of climate change rapidly become more frequent and severe, it is critical that communities in Bangladesh prepare to respond to disaster and climate crises. For women in Bangladesh’s most vulnerable communities, this work is even more urgent.
In 2014, ActionAid produced the South Asia Women’s Resilience Index, a study comparing the resilience of men and women to disasters at the community level, which found that women are significantly less able to prepare and respond to crisis because of pre-existing structural and gender inequalities. This means that women bear the brunt of climate disasters, whilst also being excluded from opportunities to lead a community’s response when disaster strikes.
Supported by the Australian Government’s Australian NGO Cooperation Program, this project built on the resilience of women to climate change by strengthening women’s agency and leadership. It supported women to mobilise to challenge existing social, political and economic barriers, and enabled women to plan evidence and rights-based alternatives that reinforce resilience. It also supported women to develop their economic independence by increasing their opportunities to access finance and the market, and has also strengthened women and young people’s knowledge, attitude, and practices in relation to sexual and reproductive rights.
Women leaders from 32 local women’s groups are implementing the plans they developed through the program to improve the resilience of women in their communities to climate change. Their plans include supporting other women to participate in business and market opportunities to increase their economic empowerment, enhancing the communities’ knowledge and awareness of climate change resistance.