Empowering women to lead climate action: Pakistan Gender Climate Award 2024


Mahnoor Ansar

ISLAMABAD: To celebrate the contributions of Pakistani women in climate action, the Embassy of France, the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, the Delegation of the European Union, the French Development Agency (AFD), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Civil Society Coalition for Climate Change (CSCCC) held the ceremony of the 2nd edition of the Gender Climate Award. The objective of the award is to highlight women’s commitment, leadership and concrete initiatives in the fight against climate change and its effects in three categories: climate action, green enterprise, and young climate journalism.

The proud winners of the Pakistan Gender Climate Award 2024 are: Qandeel Rehman (Climate Action), Umbreen Arif (Green Enterprise), and Khalida Niaz (Young Climate Journalism).

The winners received a trophy and a cash award of PKR 1.2 million each to advance their activity and use the funds to deepen the gender-climate nexus in their area of work.

The Pakistan Gender Climate Award ceremony held at the Serena Hotel was attended by dignitaries from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination, diplomats, civil society, academia, youth and the media.

The Coordinator to the Prime Minister on Climate Change, Ms. Romina Khurshid Alam, lauded the initiative and pledged her support in taking the agenda forward to strengthen the gender- climate nexus. In her keynote address, she said, “Women are the change and will change the future. They are our champions and we have faith in their capabilities.”

The Ambassador of France, H.E. Mr. Nicolas Galey stated, “We are delighted that the Gender Climate Award, which was launched last year by the French Embassy, can bring together other prestigious partners this year, and even more in the future. This demonstrates global awareness of the impact of climate change, and the need for everyone – men and women, governments, international organizations, and NGOs – to meet this challenge together. By honoring the three winners of this award, we pay tribute to the extraordinary women of Pakistan for their leadership in climate action and their efforts to find innovative and concrete solutions to make their communities more resilient.”

The EU Amb. Dr. Riina Kionka highlighted the disproportionate impact of climate change on women, she said “Women are at the heart of our work in building a sustainable world. Investing in female leadership is key for climate solutions. We are delighted to honour the inspiring work of women in addressing climate challenges, be it through journalism, entrepreneurship, or advocacy”.

The Deputy Head of Mission, UAE Embassy, Mr. Muhammad Sultan AlKaitoob commented on the negative impact of climate change on the lives and livelihoods of women, He emphasized the need for action,“ The UAE recognizes the indispensable role that gender equality plays in building a sustainable and resilient future. Empowering women and girls not only enhances social cohesion but also accelerates progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those related to climate action”.

Mr. Samuel Rizk, the Resident Representative of UNDP congratulated the winners and encouraged them to become role models of inspiration. “We’ve got to move past old-fashioned ways of thinking and work together to make real change happen. Today’s winners serve as examples for young women and girls across Pakistan that show that the barriers can be broken down”.

In her concluding remarks, Senator Sherry Rehman said, “Climate and women are inextricably linked. The impacts of a planet on fire will further erode capital of women. Spotlighting women and empowering them to become leaders is key to resilience. Events such as this should be scaled up and held every year to inspire women”

The nation-wide call for applications made in November 2023 for the Gender Climate Award received a robust response. A total of 79 applications were received and evaluated by a five- member committee to select the winners. “We hope this is a trend that we can build on to raise awareness and encourage women to participate more actively in climate action” said Aisha Khan from CSCCC.

The three Gender Climate Award winners expressed their delight and gratitude for the recognition and saw it as an opportunity to become beacons of hope. The message from the three winners reiterated their resolve and spoke with one voice to say that nothing is impossible if you take challenges head on and demonstrate grit and perseverance to achieve your objective.