Building back

By Erum Noor Muzaffar
Tue, 03, 24

In a bid to pay homage to the efforts of resilient women of Sindh who showed exceptional bravery in the wake of the 2022 floods, an event was held in Karachi. You! takes a look…

Building back


Who can forget the most devastating 2022 floods that submerged one third of the country, affecting 33 million people? The floods had a significant impact on women. They had to face numerous challenges which increased their burden of work and vulnerability due to physical, social, financial and cultural issues. Unplanned displacement during emergencies, exposure to unsafe places, lack of privacy and safety, and uncertainty increased their distress manifold during flood situation. However, it did not dampen the spirit of our women, especially women in Sindh who showed exceptional bravery in wake of floods. They started from scratch and slowly and gradually are now moving towards some semblance of normality.

In a bid to recognise the efforts of resilient women of Sindh and to honour them, an event was held in Karachi on the occasion of Women’s Day, organised by Indus Consortium in collaboration with Oxfam. What made this ceremony unique was the presence of flood-affected women from Sukkur, Dadu, Sanghar, Badin and Ghotki districts of Sindh. The programme’s aim was to amplify the voices of women impacted by climate change-induced non-economic losses, highlighting their resilience, contributions, and the urgent need for gender-responsive approaches in disaster risk management.

Building back

The event was attended by distinguished personalities, high government officials and representatives of different NGOs from Sukkur, Dadu, Sanghar, Badin and Ghotki districts. Respected speakers at the panel discussion while honouring the resilient women during the floods of 2022, emphasised the crucial need for community preparedness in the face of natural disasters, shedding light on the often-overlooked violations of women’s rights during such calamities.

Shereen Mustafa, Secretary of Education Sindh, highlighted the extensive damage caused by the 2022 floods, with over nineteen thousand schools and countless homes destroyed. “Handling disaster was a huge task. It was a challenging situation for us to educate children as most schools were destroyed or in dilapidated condition. Now, the reconstruction work is in process and five thousand schools are being built in different districts of Sindh,” expressed Mustafa. She emphasised the importance of addressing human security concerns and outlined ongoing efforts to rebuild and repair infrastructure, including the establishment of tent schools and the reconstruction of thousands of educational facilities.

Imdad Hussain Siddiqui,Director (Operations)PDMA
Imdad Hussain Siddiqui,
Director (Operations)PDMA

Imdad Hussain Siddiqui, Director (Operations) of PDMA (Provincial Disaster Management Authority), Sindh, emphasised the importance of collaboration in disaster preparedness. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Siddiqui acknowledged the significant role played by organisations like the Indus Consortium in enhancing disaster resilience in the region. “Disasters do not discriminate, and neither should our efforts to mitigate their impact. Collaboration is key to effective disaster preparedness,” stated Mr Siddiqui. He highlighted the government’s commitment to working closely with organisations and communities to build a more resilient future.

Nuzhat Shirin, Chairperson of the Sindh Commission on the Status of Women, lamented the lack of comprehensive information about the 2022 disaster and highlighted the need for active engagement from all sectors of society, including university students, in relief efforts. “We were not prepared in 2022 floods. We should make strategies. There should be coordination among different organisations to work in harmony,” she stressed.

Shazia Nizamani, representing the Sindh Women Lawyers Alliance, emphasised the importance of documenting women’s rights violations during disasters, citing instances of early marriage due to economic hardships post-flood. “In rural areas women are not even aware of their basic rights. Most people don’t know the legal age of marriage which is 18. We, as lawyers, intervened and were able to stop some early marriages which were going to take place in different villages,” elucidated Nizamani. She urged for increased awareness and intervention to protect vulnerable women and girls.

Building back

Lal Khatun, a disabled community leader from Sanghar, shared her first-hand experience of the challenges faced by women during the flood, particularly the lack of access to basic facilities such as washrooms.

Following the discussions, the atmosphere was enlivened by captivating street theatre performances, presented by university students and high school children, showcasing the resilience and spirit of the women affected by the 2022 floods.

Adding a vibrant touch of music to the celebration, Ms Shaheen Gul showcased her musical talents by playing ‘Chang’, a musical instrument. Ms Gul also inspired the participants with her story of courage. Next was Faqeer Manthar and his daughters’ wonderful performance of ‘Shah Jo Rag’. Their distinctive way of presenting the timeless poetry of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai in the vibrant hues truly enthralled the audience.

While giving vote of thanks, Hussain Jarwar, CEO of Indus Consortium, said, “This event aimed to catalyse action towards building more inclusive and resilient communities.”

The event was part of the ‘Building Back Better by Empowering Communities: Crafting Community-led Non-Economic Loss and Damage Framework’ project, initiated by Indus Consortium. Through collaboration with Oxfam, the Indus Consortium aims to develop a community-led framework on loss and damage, with a particular emphasis on safeguarding women affected by the 2022 floods. Indus Consortium’s case study, endorsed by various stakeholders including government departments and academic institutions, highlighted critical issues such as women’s protection, gender-based challenges, and the destruction of livelihoods. This study gained global recognition at COP-28, emphasising the significance of local voices in shaping global discussions on non-economic loss and damage.

Building back

The proposed framework represents a pivotal opportunity to establish a Loss and Damage Fund for climate-vulnerable countries like Pakistan, with ongoing efforts to advance the agenda and shape future frameworks remaining paramount. The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day ‘Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress’ aligns with the project’s objectives, emphasising the need to recognise and address non-economic losses resulting from climate change through the lens of women’s experiences and perspectives.

All in all, the event served as a powerful reminder of the strength and resilience of women in the face of adversity, while also highlighting the importance of collective action and solidarity in building more resilient communities.