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12 November, 2022, Dhaka: From cyclones, flooding, river erosion to sea level rise, the effects of climate change are impacting all of us – especially, women and girls across Bangladesh, one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.

To raise awareness on the impact of the climate crisis on women and girls, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Australian High Commission in Bangladesh jointly launched a public photo exhibition advocating for increased attention on upholding the rights of women and girls during disasters. The exhibition, which was officially launched today, will be open to the public from 12-16 November at the National Museum’s Nalini Kanta Bhattasali Hall. The photos provide a glimpse into the struggles that women and girls of reproductive age face during crises, as well as the support that UNFPA, together with partners on the ground, provides to ensure the safety and health of women and girls.  

Ms. Kristine Blokhus, UNFPA Bangladesh Representative, Ms. Nardia Simpson, Deputy High Commissioner of the Australian High Commission in Bangladesh, and Ms. Gwyn Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh  officially opened the exhibition earlier today, which commences a regional advocacy campaign to raise awareness on the impact of the climate crises on women and girls across Asia and the Pacific. High-ranking Representatives from the Government, diplomatic community, United Nations agencies, development partners, students and the  media participated in the opening session.

Speaking at the opening, UNFPA Representative Kristine Blokhus said,, ”This photo collection that we launch today, in parallel to the ongoing UN Conference on Climate Change - COP27, shares how UNFPA, through the support of our donors, including the Australian government, and our partners on the ground, come together to ensure the rights and choices of women and girls are upheld. It is not merely an exhibition. It is a call to action and every one of us must play our part in fighting the climate crisis ”

Ms. Nardia Simpson, Deputy High Commissioner of the Australian High Commission in Bangladesh said, “We are pleased to partner with UNFPA to co-host this exhibition. Principles of women and girls’ rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment are at the heart of Australia’s long-standing partnership with UNFPA globally and here in Bangladesh, where we work together to ensure lifesaving supplies can be quickly distributed to women and girls in times of crisis. The striking pictures capture not only the experiences of those women and girls, but also their resilience. When preparing for and responding to cycles of disaster and displacement, exhibitions like this help us better understand women and girls’ stories, and ensure their voices shape planning and policy making in this area..”

Ms. Gwyn Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh mentioned that 50% of girls living in slums are believed to have been displaced because of river erosion. She further stated, “The  numbers are only going to grow, nd the impact of climate change on internally displaced communities is going to increase.  Giving voice to people who are impacted is incredibly important.”.

The opening was followed by an interactive discussion that unpacked the issues women and girls face during disasters, particularly relating to their sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as increased risk to gender-based violence,, such as women and girls going missing, being trafficked, and being sexually abused. The  discussions were  moderated by Dr. Ahsan Uddin Ahmed, Members of the Independent Technical Advisory Panel of the Green House Fund. More than hundred people including journalists attended the opening ceremony and interactive discussions.