Opening remarks by Masatsugu Asakawa, President, Asian Development Bank, at International Women’s Day 2022, 8 March 2022
It is my great pleasure to welcome you to ADB’s annual celebration of International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is Women Leading Towards an Equal and Greener Future.
As the climate bank for Asia and the Pacific, ADB’s support in these areas is absolutely critical, because women's knowledge, skills, and leadership are some of the most significant resources we have to address the climate crisis.
I am pleased to welcome an exceptional leader to share her experiences with us: the Honorable Sabra Ibrahim Noordeen, Special Envoy for Climate Change for the Maldives.
Before we hear from our distinguished guest, let me offer a few reflections on today’s theme.
I. The disproportionate impact of climate change on women
My friends, in order to rebuild from the pandemic toward a greener, more inclusive, and resilient future, we must place gender equality at the center of our efforts.
The reason for this has been made clear in many parts of our region, including right here in the Philippines, where Super Typhoon Odette brought terrible destruction to islands in the southern region of the country last December. The typhoon affected over 9 million people and damaged 1.4 million homes.
We see in places like this that hard-earned development gains can be reversed in a matter of days. And the frequency and intensity of these events will increase due to climate change.
In the aftermath of these disasters, women face increased burdens of care as they travel long distances searching for water and face food insecurity. They are at increased risk of gender-based violence, harassment, and abuse. And with severe disruptions to schools, health facilities, and services, women of reproductive age also risk losing access to urgent sexual and reproductive health care.
II. Women leading on climate change
I am proud of ADB’s quick response to Typhoon Odette through a $2 million grant to help restore critical life-saving services and provide food assistance.
In addition to immediate support like this, let me describe two important ways that we can place women’s leadership at the heart of our work to address the challenges posed by disasters like Typhoon Odette.
First, let us fully embrace the role of women as leaders and knowledge bearers for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Last year, I met many of these remarkable individuals at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, including heads of national delegations and civil society. I encourage you to support their work and learn from their transformative ideas.
Second, as many of you know, we aim for 75% of ADB’s operations to promote gender equality by 2030; and it is also our ambition to provide $100 billion in cumulative climate finance, also by 2030. I want you to incorporate gender-responsive climate and disaster risk finance toward these ends. Please keep in mind that women and girls are disproportionately affected by climate change, so we must ensure that adequate resources reach them.
Let me end by expressing my most profound confidence that our work together will deliver the gender transformative ideas and resources the region needs at this critical moment.