Imagine you are a young girl residing in a rural coastal community in Bangladesh, one of the communities most affected by the climate crisis. Your daily life requires balancing domestic, school, and work responsibilities, juggling arduous tasks like fetching water, getting to and from school safely, helping cook family meals, and taking care of your younger siblings, among other household chores. In addition, you work occasional underpaid jobs outside the home because your father migrated to the city due to changing sea levels. This exhausting routine mirrors that of your friends, neighbors, and teachers. Despite all this, you maintain good grades at school and hope to eventually become a nurse. Unfortunately, due to shared systemic oppression and struggles, your community can offer little support to the possibility of your continuing in formal education.

In Bangladesh, as in many other countries, women and girls are expected to carry most of the climate crisis burden, facing a high loss of livelihood opportunities, increased sexual harassment, and little scope of political participation when facing natural disasters. To better understand how girls exercise their agency in marginalized contexts, including climate crisis-affected settings, the Learning and Action Alliance for Girls’ Agency (LAAGA), in collaboration with Education and Cultural Society (ECS), has worked on exploring what agency looks like for adolescent girls between 10-19 years old living in the coastal communities of Feni district, Bangladesh. This effort is part of LAAGA’s initial country case studies encompassing Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and the Karamoja region of Kenya and Uganda. Recognizing the need for evidence-based practice and policy, LAAGA and ECS co-organized two research presentations in Feni and Dhaka in February 2024. These events were attended by girls themselves, policymakers, educators, and partners in civil society and academia.

Here are three of our initial findings shared by LAAGA in Bangladesh:

  • Agency requires a systemic, cross-sectoral, and multi-level approach
  • Agency is learned in community and girls need access to strong role models
  • Agency implies girls defining their own solutions

Read the full article about girls' agency and the climate crisis by Nasrin Siddiqa and Atenea Rosado-Viurques at Brookings.