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International Women’s Day: Promoting gender equality for a sustainable tomorrow

Posted: 8 March 2022

Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Alumni, APO, Environment, Impact, Inclusion,

Today, the world is coming together to mark International Women’s Day, celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s UN Women theme for International Women’s Day, ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’, recognises the women and girls around the world who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation and response, to build a more sustainable future for all.

This International Women’s Day, we celebrate the efforts of Australia Awards alumni from South Asia & Mongolia who are contributing towards a more gender-equal world for a sustainable future.

Alumnae achievements across South Asia & Mongolia

Across South Asia & Mongolia, Australia Awards alumnae in leadership roles are striving to make a difference in their countries, including leading on sustainability, gender equality and climate action initiatives.

In Bangladesh, Mosammat Rashida Akter, Sinora Chakma and Asma Shaheen personify this year’s International Women’s Day theme with their efforts and achievements in advancing gender equality in the context of climate action to help build a more sustainable future for their country.

Dr Radha Wagle, Joint Secretary at Nepal’s Ministry of Forests and Environment and the first woman to hold this position at the Ministry, is contributing to community forestry, eco-tourism and wildlife management—and promoting empowerment of women in Nepal at the same time.

Nepali Alum Dr Radha Wagle

Pakistani alumna Mehak Masood contributed to curbing climate change in Pakistan by providing technical support to the Ministry of Climate Change to achieve its climate action goals and targets set in the Paris Agreement.

Career diplomat Sarantogos Erdenetsogt has been a strong advocate of gender equality and women’s empowerment in Mongolia. She has recently been appointed as the next Ambassador of Mongolia to South Korea. Her appointment as Ambassador marks a historic milestone in Mongolian diplomacy. Mongolia now has its highest number of female Ambassadors yet: six out of 31 positions.

Alumna Sarantogos Erdenetsogt

Pema Sherpa works at the Red Panda Network in Nepal, where she is contributing to wildlife and environmental conservation efforts, helping red pandas and other threatened wildlife.

Environmental professional and university lecturer Fathimath Nistharan’s passion for marine environment protection has led her to be involved in many initiatives that link higher education and environmental management and protection in the Maldives.

Recognised globally for her expertise, Bangladeshi alumna Dr Biswas Karabi Farhana is advancing air quality through scientific and societal atmospheric research.

Alumna Dr Biswas Karabi Farhana

Alumni engagement activity

Australia Awards alumnae and environmental champions participated in a podcast series called ‘2022 Changing Climates: Equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’, organised by Australia Awards – South Asia & Mongolia. Three episodes have been released:

  • Episode 1: ‘Biodiversity, conservation and environmental research’ with Dr Biswas Karabi Farhana (Bangladesh) and Thinley Choden (Bhutan). This episode’s discussion topics include gender equality, environmental conservation and recommendations to advance environmental research.
  • Episode 2: ‘Climate change, adaptation and women in water’ with Kusum Athukorala (Sri Lanka) and Afia Salam (Pakistan). This episode’s discussion deals with gender equality, climate change and adaptation, and water conservation. Participants also share recommendations to mitigate climate change.
  • Episode 3: ‘Sustainable cities, resilient societies and disaster risk management’ with Saraswati Aryal (Nepal), Fathimath Nistharan (Maldives) and Unurjargal Lkhanaa (Mongolia). This episode’s discussion covers gender equality, building sustainable cities and resilient societies, and recommendations to reduce the risk of disasters owing to the climate crisis.

Listen to the podcast series here.

Leading for women’s economic empowerment

Australia Awards works with local and international organisations to provide Australian Professional Opportunities (APOs) to participants from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. APOs are learning and development activities funded by the Australian Government to support leaders from priority sectors with additional learning and networking opportunities.

Over the past three months, Australia Awards has supported emerging women leaders in South Asia to strengthen their skills and competencies through an APO onLeading for Women’s Economic Empowerment.

Delivered by gender experts from the Flinders University Gender Consortium in Australia and across the Indo-Pacific region, this APO helped 18 women from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal to broaden their understanding of what is needed to achieve transformative economic empowerment for women.

Participants during the virtual course on ‘Leading for Women’s Economic Empowerment’

In the months and years to come, we look forward to seeing these participants step up and onto the global stage with their work to improve the lives of women.

Gender equality and Australia Awards

A recent survey shows that Australia Awards alumnae are universally using the skills and knowledge they earned while studying in Australia to contribute to the development of their countries, while attaining career advancement at levels equivalent to their male counterparts.

Promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment is a core policy priority for the Australian Government. Australia is supporting women’s leadership and decision-making in the Indo-Pacific through Partnerships for Recovery and its political and economic advocacy.

Australia Awards aims for equal participation by both women and men. All women—in particular, women from traditionally marginalised groups and women with disability—are encouraged to apply for Australia Awards.

Applications for Australia Awards Scholarships are currently open! Learn more about the support available for women and other groups.