USAID Bangladesh, EMK Center, and Women and Girls Lead Global (WGLG) celebrated World Environment Day by organizing a film screening that inspired attendees to take steps to make the world a greener, cleaner place. The event started with the Women in the World series film Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai, and was followed by a panel discussion that allowed attendees and experts to reflect on the film and share ideas for protecting the environment. The screening was attended by university students, environmental and human rights activists, academia, and researchers.
Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai tells the story of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement, and follows the movement’s leader, Wangari Maathi, the first African woman and environmentalist to win the Nobel Prize in 2004. Maathai discovered her life’s work by reconnecting with the rural women with whom she had grown up. They told her they were spending hours each day walking long distances for firewood, and that clean water was scarce. The soil was disappearing from their fields, and their children were suffering from malnutrition. Maathai’s solution to all of these problems? Planting trees.
One of the panelists, Dr. Mazumder, an Environment and Climate Change Specialist from USAID Bangladesh, suggested to the audience that determination and commitment such as Maathai’s is the primary condition for success. Another panelist, Professor Nasreen of the University of Dhaka, pointed out that we are destroying plants without knowing their benefits for human life, and stressed the importance of building our understanding of their value. Ms. Mahmuda, a panelist and Gender Adviser from USAID Bangladesh, highlighted the importance of balancing industrialization and environment protection, as both are important for the growth of Bangladesh.
Inspired by Maathai’s simple tree-planting solution to myriad environmental problems, audience members pledged to plant a tree in the next day. The event ended with the moderator, Mahmud Hasan, Country Coordinator for WGLG Bangladesh, sharing some useful resources related to the film and its message.