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From left: Humera Iqbal, Irum Fatima and Mehreen Raza set good examples in agriculture, gender equality and women empowerment. Image Credit: Supplied

ISLAMABAD: The Embassy of France on Wednesday hosted an award-giving ceremony to celebrate the International Women’s Day (March 8) and to recognise efforts of three Pakistani women in the fields of climate change and gender equality.

Launched jointly by the French embassy, Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in July last year, the Gender & Climate Award is going to be an annual feature and the organisers hoped it would continue to highlight the best practices by women in climate change and gender equality.

A cash reward of €3,500 (Dh13,543), €2,500 (Dh9,673) and €2,000 (Dh7,739) was also given along with the first, second and third recipients of the award.

Eco-friendly practices

Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman, the Chief Guest on the occasion, congratulated the award-winners for setting good examples in agriculture, gender equality and women empowerment. “Your stories are indeed inspiring for other women and we have many things to learn from you, she said.

Pakistan, she said, bears the brunt of climate change every year, and particularly, the memory of last year’s floods is still etched on our minds when hundreds and thousands of people in Sindh went homeless, colossal loss caused to crops and livestock.

Similarly, we are facing another impending calamity i.e. heat wave which is another ‘gift’ of climate change, she said.

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Ambassador of France Nicolas Galey and Federal Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman presenting gender and climate award to Humera Iqbal, the first prize winner, at the French Embassy on Wednesday. Image Credit: Supplied

In this scenario, meeting women who have done excellent work in this particular sector is indeed a matter of honour for me, said Sherry Rehman.

Later, in a tweet, Sherry Rehman thanked Ambassador Nicolas Galey calling the event an opportunity for women to spearhead innovation in community leadership roles.

“Thank u to Amb @NicholasGaley @FranceinPak @IUCN for partnering on the climate and gender awards today. These inspire women for overcoming obstacles and spearheading innovation in community leadership roles. @ClimateChangePK needs allies in protecting vulnerability at scale.

Award to promote inclusion, women leadership

Ambassador Nicolas Galey said the award drew attention to good practices and concrete solutions led by women from civil society for a more fair, equal and healthy planet.

It responds to the Paris Agreement’s objective of promoting gender equality, justice and youth engagement in climate action. It seeks to promote greater inclusion and leadership of women in climate action.

Supporting rural women key to fight climate change

Humera Iqbal, first prize winner is a volunteer who took an initiative to support rural women by engaging them in livestock and agriculture in Pakistan. While expressing gratitude to Ambassador Nicolas Galey, Philippe Steinmetz of AFD, Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative of IUCN and Minister Rehman, Humera said “We women thought carefully about our own values and set ourselves challenges to lead by examples.” Supporting rural women is a key to fight adverse effects of climate change, said she.

The second prize winner, Irum Fatima working for Pakistani Hoslamand Khawateen Network (PHKN), said it was a big day for her as her efforts were being recognized at a high level. She said she believed in empowering women to play a key role in promoting environmental sustainability, thereby ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come.”

Mehreen Raza who is also running a non-profit non-government organisation “SheGuard” was given the third prize. While accepting the award she said “She-Guard is a shield to ensure women and earth’s health. She-Guard is the silver lining for the most ignored problems of women’s health and climate change. She-Guard ensures that women’s problems aren’t taboo anymore.”

According to the jury members, the recipients were shortlisted after a rigorous process of evaluation as in total 23 applications were received, 10 applications were shortlisted while 3 winners were selected.