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The Climate Crisis: An Opportunity for Gender-Inclusive Solutions

Nov 29, 2023

Integrating gender intelligence and intersectionality into climate resilience initiatives

By Nelly Ramírez Moncada, Rohini Komal, Sandra Guzman Luna, AnnRita Njiru, Sarah Henry, Catherine Highet, and Wendy Chamberlin

Climate change and the risks associated with climate events will have an outsized impact on vulnerable populations, especially women.  Uncertain job conditions, coupled with the disproportionate burden of caregiving, alongside restrictive gendered social norms, limit women's involvement in decision-making processes related to climate adaptive solutions and efforts to build climate resilience.   

Advancing Gender-Climate Resilience: The Role of Climate Organizations

Organizations crafting solutions for the climate crisis without a gender lens risk neglecting crucial considerations for enhancing climate resilience. This oversight may fail to recognize the innovative solutions and adaptations women are implementing.

To contribute to discussions in this space, at CIFAR Alliance, we recently facilitated an online discussion delving into gender perspectives across various aspects of climate change. Our dialogue spanned gender climate finance, gender climate-smart innovation, and the intersection of gender with the global loss and damage fund.

The panel for the discussion comprised eminent thought leaders in this field. 

AnnRita Njiru, the program manager for the Activator program at  The Rallying Cry, emphasized that funding women farmers is essential to support their participation in climate resilience initiatives. She cited the example of Bupe, a woman farmer from Zambia who received financial support from a fund. This support enabled her to expand her organic strawberry and bio-gas production agri-business, ultimately leading to the employment of around 1,000 additional farmers. "When we invest in women, it creates a ripple effect," emphasized AnnRita.

"Land ownership and access to relevant benefits are out of reach to them due to policy limitations," said Sandra Guzman, Founder and CEO  of The Climate Finance Group for Latin America and the Caribbean (GFLAC). She highlighted that this predicament significantly impacts women in indigenous communities, given their crucial role in stewardship and conservation, fostering a deep connection to the land.

Dr. Rohini Kamal, a Research Fellow at the BRAC Institute for Governance and Development, emphasized that more frequent water shortages mean that women in emerging markets grapple with sanitation issues during menstruation. She noted that doctors are increasingly encountering women seeking pills to pause their bleeding. Dr. Kamal insisted, 'The experts are the rural women who are most impacted - they should be consulted."

Employ an intersectional approach.

Climate change impacts are neither uniform nor neutral; instead, they disproportionately affect marginalized communities, with women bearing a significant brunt. Recognizing and designing solutions for and with the communities most affected is imperative to ensure effectiveness and equity. Women, pivotal in resource management, agriculture, and community resilience, must be included meaningfully in decision-making processes and resource allocation. This is not merely a matter of social justice; it is essential for the quality and sustainability of climate actions.

An intersectional approach should tap into the wealth of insights within communities and redistribute power and decision-making authority to empower communities to drive their own change. This approach fosters innovation and more inclusive problem-solving by considering various perspectives and experiences, ultimately leading to more resilient, adaptive, and sustainable climate strategies.

Gender intelligent design from the outset.

It is crucial that those with influence, from decision-makers to implementers, center and design solutions for the needs of ALL people. This involves prioritizing those most affected by the problem throughout the design process. Not only does this align with international commitments like the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, but, more importantly, it is the right thing to do.

To radically alter the current trajectory of climate change, we must fundamentally shift how we design and conceptualize solutions. The era of 'adding women and stirring' to retrofit solutions is no longer sufficient; we must now design solutions for people, particularly those in the most vulnerable populations. Recognizing that women face heightened vulnerability due to limited asset ownership, restricted access to information and financing, and enduring gendered social norms, we must understand the realities of women at the forefront of climate change. Consequently, our climate solutions must be crafted to generate sustainable and long-term impacts for women and girls. Initiating awareness campaigns, conducting research, and fostering connections for shared ideas and insights represent a valuable first step. CIFAR is unwaveringly committed to advancing and continuing these conversations as an alliance.

Further resources on this topic can be found here

To learn more about the CIFAR Alliance,

Rohini Komal, Sandra Guzman Luna, AnnRita Njiru, Sarah Henry, Nelly Ramírez Moncada, Catherine Highet, and Wendy Chamberlin contributed to this blog. 

Rosita Najmi, Head Global Social Innovation, PayPal

“At PayPal, we believe in the potential of digital finance to enable disadvantaged communities and populations build climate resilience and thrive in the global net-zero economy. We look forward to ongoing collaboration with our CIFAR Alliance partners to enable responsible technological and inclusive financial innovations that create economic opportunity for climate-vulnerable populations around the world.”
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