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​A Study on Climate Change and Gender in Bangladesh

Bangladesh experienced rapid social and economic progress in recent decades, reaching lower-middle-income status in 2015. Economic growth has been accompanied by improvements in human development outcomes. The COVID-19 pandemic caused major disruptions to economic activity and exports in 2020. However, growth accelerated as movement restrictions were progressively lifted and external conditions stabilized in early 2021.

As incomes rise in Bangladesh, a new set of development challenges need to be addressed. The Global Climate Risk Index ranks Bangladesh as the world’s seventh most-affected country over 2000-2019,2 with increasing losses of natural capital and environmental degradation exacerbated by climate change. As shown in the Groundswell reports (part 1 and part 2) ; Bangladesh, with up to 19.9 million internal climate migrants by 2050, has almost half the projected internal climate migrants for the entire South Asia region. Bangladesh is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, necessitating strong adaptation and resilience measures. 

There exists a wealth of literature on the implications of climate change on gender and on the drivers of migration across societies and regions. In recent years, this literature has been expanded with the vital integration of “climate migration”. What is intriguing here is this inclusion of climate change challenges has been mostly found to get incorporated in the “migration” literature from the adaptation perspective i.e., whether migration could be an effective climate adaptation strategy or not. In this line of argument, we need to understand that the concept of “climate-induced human migration” is contentious; in particular, there is still an ongoing debate on the terminologies, identification strategies and the legal provisions of acceptances of this huge number of climate-induced disaster displaced people among signatories to various environmental agreements. 

Climate change impacts and gender dynamics can together influence migration as an adaptive strategy. In Bangladesh, meanwhile, both flooding and crop failure increased migration by women who have less secure access to land. Migration from rural to urban areas has led to shifts in traditional gender roles and, in some contexts, to more empowerment and opportunities for women in their communities and households. At the same time, migrants, especially women, can be at risk of exploitation, including sexual exploitation, human trafficking, and violations of their rights. Climate risks can also make it more difficult for women to migrate, due to structural issues. Gendered access to resources and equality can be determining factors in the decision to migrate, while gendered norms in receiving communities can lead to unfavorable outcomes for women.

Therefore, the specific objectives of this study are:

• Identifying the social and economic dimensions and inclusionary challenges of climate change in Bangladesh, including differential impacts on women and girls;

• Identifying the existing landscape for women and girls to participate in and lead local, sub-national, national, and regional efforts to address climate change;

• Identifying the relevant climate initiatives (e.g., climate action, climate smart technology etc.) and existing strategies for adaptation, with a particular focus on community-based and locally led adaptation;

• Proposing a deep dive approach for climate-induced migration. In addition, identifying two additional priority issues for future exploration of creating evidence base;

• Proposing an approach for the analysis and recommendations, based on the in-depth findings of this study including justification for selection of deep dive areas to address the gaps in the literature.

The study would employ mixed methodologies utilizing both Quantitative and Qualitative data. Data can be generated using Questionnaire Survey, Case Studies, Key Informant Interviews, and Focus Group Discussions. 

Team Leader: Dr. Azreen Karim

Duration: May 2023 – Dec.2023

Sponsor: The World Bank Group

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