Meet a member: Sohanur Rahman, Protiki Jubo Sangshad, (Bangladesh Model Youth Parliament)

‘Meet a member’ is a regular feature in the global MenEngage Alliance newsletter. This month we speak to Sohanur Rahman (pronouns: he/him), chief executive at Protiki Jubo Sangshad, (Bangladesh Model Youth Parliament), and a member of the global Climate & Environmental Justice Working Group of MenEngage Alliance.

What do you work on?

I am a dedicated young climate justice activist, with a focus on youth engagement. I advocate for fair solutions to combat climate change’s impacts, especially in vulnerable coastal communities like Bangladesh.

I mobilize youth through leadership roles in networks like YouthNet for Climate Justice and Fridays for Future Bangladesh, fostering their active participation in shaping climate policies at various levels. I engage in educational outreach, spreading awareness about climate change, disaster preparedness, and sanitation in vulnerable communities. My policy engagement ensures meaningful youth representation in decision-making forums, including international conferences like COP.

I also coordinate large-scale climate campaigns, like Global Wave of Climate Action, and sit on the MenEngage Alliance Climate & Environmental Justice Working Group to address the intersections of climate, gender and masculinities.

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How did you get involved in this work?

My journey into climate activism was sparked by personal experiences and a deep sense of responsibility. My involvement began with witnessing the devastating impact of super cyclone Sidr in 2007, leaving a lasting impression on me. The trauma of that event, coupled with my observation of Bangladesh’s struggle for fair treatment in global climate discussions like COP15, ignited my passion to address climate issues.

As a teenager, I was already engaged in advocating for child rights and ending child marriage through my participation in the Child Parliament in Bangladesh. During this time, I recognized the intricate links between climate change, extreme poverty, and children’s rights. Growing up in a coastal area, I witnessed firsthand the hardships faced by coastal communities due to climate-related disasters. These experiences compelled me to act.

In 2016, at the age of 20, I made a conscious decision to focus on climate justice and youth mobilization. I founded YouthNet for Climate Justice, a platform that united youth groups and voluntary organizations to promote climate advocacy at local and national levels. I further amplified my efforts by joining global movements like Fridays for Future Bangladesh, demonstrating solidarity with Greta Thunberg’s climate strikes.

Overall, my involvement in climate activism is deeply rooted in personal experiences, a sense of duty, and the desire to create a more equitable and sustainable world for current and future generations.

  1. ‘A resource/project/tool I am proud of’ (This could be a link to a video, an article, report, case study, campaign, etc, that you worked on and think will be of interest to others working on transforming masculinities for gender equality)

What keeps you motivated in this work?

What keeps me motivated in this work is the urgency of the climate crisis and the pressing need for action. Bangladesh is the seventh most affected country for extreme weather. I feel overwhelmed with concern over what I see as a lack of political will to stop the destruction.

The climate crisis is a mental stress, trauma, and nightmare for me. I remember a 2007 super cyclone that killed thousands of people in the South Asian nation. It took a big emotional toll to witness the devastating consequences of climate change on my homeland. But seeing the impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities, especially in coastal areas like Bangladesh, fuels my determination. I am inspired by the resilience of those affected and the potential for positive change when youth unite for a common cause. I try to channel my climate anxiety into meaningful action, striving to amplify the voices that usually go unheard, while fostering collaborations that can drive real solutions.

What do you hope we can achieve together as an Alliance that we cannot do as individual organizations?

Working as part of an alliance, we can collectively foster a global movement that not only recognizes the interplay between climate change and gender justice but also takes tangible actions to address them. I hope that the alliance can amplify voices, share experiences, and inspire meaningful change at both local and global levels. By uniting efforts, I envision creating a platform for diverse perspectives and initiatives to flourish, leading to more effective solutions.

As climate activists, it is our duty to bridge the gap between climate justice and gender justice. By collaborating and recognizing the interlinkages, we can create a more just and sustainable world for all.

Is there a part of the MenEngage Core Principles that resonates with you?

The principle of ‘We believe in the capability of men and boys to actively support gender, social, and climate justice’ resonates strongly with me. This principle highlights the transformative potential of involving men and boys in addressing climate and gender justice, and it underscores the importance of collective action for positive change.

What is your message to other MenEngage members on climate change?

I recommend that fellow members of MenEngage Alliance actively integrate climate justice and gender justice into their work. Recognize the interconnectedness of these issues and their impact on vulnerable communities, particularly women and girls. Encourage open dialogue, collaboration, and the sharing of best practices to create holistic solutions that address both climate change and gender inequality.

You can find Sohanur on social media on X (formerly Twitter). Follow Fridays For Future Bangladesh on X, and Bangladesh Model Youth Parliament on Facebook. And Youth Net for Climate Justice on X.

01 September 2023