Search

 

Cablegate: Women Key to Food Security and Climate Change In

VZCZCXRO2436
PP RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHLH RUEHNEH RUEHPW
DE RUEHKA #1077/01 3340554
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 300554Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9717
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 2196
RUEHCP/AMEMBASSY COPENHAGEN 0082
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 2959
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHHJJPI/PACOM IDHS HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 001077

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR S/GWI, SCA/INSB
DEPT PLEASE PASS USAID
NEW DELHI FOR FAS HHIGGINS AND DLEISHMAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KWMN EAID PREL EAGR ECON SENV BG
SUBJECT: WOMEN KEY TO FOOD SECURITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE IN
BANGLADESH

Summary
-------

1. (SBU) The recent visit to Bangladesh by Ambassador-at-Large for
Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer underscored U.S.-Bangladesh
convergence on a number of issues, including food security and
climate change, and highlighted the role women should play in these
efforts. Ambassador Verveer called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
and Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, both of whom welcomed the prospect
of collaboration on issues of importance to women, including food,
health, education and climate change. Ambassador Verveer and
Bangladesh's two most senior women agreed that women played a
pivotal role in development.

PM welcomes USG initiatives
---------------------------

2. (U) Ambassador Verveer, in a call on the Prime Minister with
Ambassador Moriarty November 11, highlighted the United States'
commitment to progress on food security and climate change,
including the role women could play at the grassroots level in
tackling these problems. She also highlighted the positive
developments in Bangladesh since her last trip to the country in
1995, including the overwhelming number of women working in the
garment industry and the high turnout of voters in the recent
elections, especially amongst women. The Prime Minister praised
Secretary Clinton's decision to host a meeting on food security on
the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in September and
noted the overwhelming response to the event by developing nations.

3. (SBU) The Prime Minister agreed with Ambassador Verveer that
involving women in food security programs would increase their
chances for success. The PM described a project initiated during
her previous government in 1996-2001 called "one house, one farm,"
which helped women establish gardens, small livestock operations or
orchards using existing space in their households. The program
intended to help women supplement their incomes or subsistence
levels. The PM said the pilot program was well-received though
challenges existed for women in getting their products to market;
the GOB established some co-operatives to assist with market access.
Hasina said she had a plan for re-establishing this program on a
larger scale included in this year's budget. Ambassador Verveer
noted that the USG's new food security initiative aimed at tackling
similar challenges.

Health and education also a priority
------------------------------------

4. (SBU) The Prime Minister told Ambassadors Verveer and Moriarty
that, in addition to food, health and education were keys to women's
survival and empowerment in Bangladesh. In terms of health, the PM
said the GOB was committed to improving its community health
clinics, particularly with services for women. The goal was to have
two health centers for every 6,000 people. Improving health would
reduce maternal mortality, which was a significant issue in
Bangladesh. On education, the Prime Minister said she would like to
see free education extended through secondary school and greater
options for post-secondary education, particularly vocational
schools.

5. (SBU) Ambassador Verveer praised Bangladesh for achieving the
Millennium Development Goal of parity in girls' enrollment in
primary and secondary school. She asked for the Prime Minister's
views on how to keep both boys and girls in school longer in
Bangladesh, since the drop-out rate was so high. The Prime Minister
replied that one solution was school feeding programs. She said her
daughter was a child psychologist who had worked in the United
States and was struck by the impact U.S. school feeding programs had
on ensuring children stayed in school. She asked for U.S.
assistance in this area. Ambassador Moriarty noted the U.S.
Department of Agriculture already sponsored some school feeding
programs in Bangladesh, particularly for schools in southern
Bangladesh where families lost livelihoods during the 2007 Cyclone
Sidr disaster. Everyone agreed on the need to work together to
consider the quality of food in Bangladesh, since malnutrition was a
big challenge in Bangladesh.

Support for women in peace-keeping
----------------------------------

6. (SBU) Prime Minister Hasina noted another area in which

DHAKA 00001077 002 OF 002


Bangladeshi women could contribute, UN peace-keeping. She said the
United Nations and recipient nations had noted the success women
involved in peace-keeping operations (PKO) had with local
populations. As a result, there was interest in more Bangladeshi
women included in the nation's large contributions to United Nations
PKO. The Prime Minister has tasked Bangladesh's Home Ministry with
identifying women in the police and Army to participate in UN
operations.

Women in politics
-----------------

7. (SBU) Prime Minister Hasina praised the Women's Development
Policy, which was a comprehensive plan her government was trying to
push forward and includes women's economic empowerment, health,
education, and political participation. She noted that there were
women in local government thanks to the women's quota and that
during her previous tenure she ensured the appointment of women
judges to the High Court. The Prime Minister highlighted the fact
that 45,000 women contested in local elections for only 12,000
positions. Ambassador Moriarty noted that USAID was launching a
program to help build the capacity of women leaders.

PM and FM focused on climate change
-----------------------------------

8. (SBU) Both the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Dipu Moni
discussed global climate change in their meetings with Ambassador
Verveer. The Foreign Minister had recently returned from the
Maldives, where countries most vulnerable to climate change had met
to prepare for the upcoming summit in Copenhagen. The Foreign
Minister said Bangladesh was committed to doing its part on climate
change mitigation, even as a poor nation suffering the effects of
climate change. The Foreign Minister and Ambassador Verveer agreed
that while women were among the most vulnerable to the effects of
climate change, they also provided great potential for addressing
climate change through household solutions. Ambassador Verveer said
small changes at the household level were as important as the big
solutions needed to battle emissions, etc.

Comment
-------

9. (SBU) U.S. initiatives on food security, global climate change
and health, and their inclusion of a role for women in each, are
almost tailor-made for Bangladesh. Bangladeshis, particularly
Bangladeshi women, face food, health and environment dilemmas on a
daily basis. The GOB's top leaders seem to understand this and
warmly welcomed projected U.S.-Bangladesh partnership in these
areas. Ambassador Verveer's timely visit helped kick off our
efforts here; we are off to an excellent start.

10. (U) S/GWI cleared this cable.

DEAN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 


Human Rights: China Journalist Jailed For COVID Reporting Seriously Ill, Must Be Released

UN human rights experts* today urged China to immediately release imprisoned citizen journalist and woman human rights defender Zhang Zhan on humanitarian grounds, saying her health is deteriorating rapidly and her life is in danger... More>>

CID: PNG Deadly Covid Crisis Getting Worse
People in Papua New Guinea are not getting enough Covid vaccines due to misinformation. This is causing immense stress and suffering throughout the country, says Quenelda Clegg Chair of CID’s Humanitarian Network...More>>


Sudan: Bachelet Condemns Killings Of Peaceful Protesters

At least 39 people have been killed by security forces in Sudan since the 25 October military coup, 15 of whom were reportedly shot dead on Wednesday, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights...
More>>


Focus On: UN SDGs

Food: Three Billion People Cannot Afford A Healthy Diet

Approximately three billion people, almost 40 per cent of the world’s population, cannot afford a healthy diet and another one billion people would join their ranks should further unpredictable events reduce incomes by one-third, the UN food agency said, launching a new report on Tuesday... More>>

COP26: Enough Of ‘Treating Nature Like A Toilet’ – Guterres Brings Stark Call For Climate Action To Glasgow
As the World Leaders Summit opened on day two of COP26, UN chief António Guterres sent a stark message to the international community. “We are digging our own graves”, he said, referring to the addiction to fossil fuels which threatens to push humanity and the planet, to the brink, through unsustainable global heating... More>>


Climate: ‘Vague’ Net Zero Promises Not Enough: Planet Still On Track For Catastrophic Heating, UN Report Warns

New and updated commitments made ahead of the pivotal climate conference COP26 in the past months are a positive step forward, but the world remains on track for a dangerous global temperature rise of at least 2.7°C this century even if fully met, a new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned... More>>