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  • Mar 08, 2019

#BalanceforBetter: how CIF is contributing to gender equality in climate action

Anne Kuriakose 

On this International Women’s Day, we celebrate women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements.

It’s also a day to recognize the importance of gender parity and strive towards a world of opportunity and empowerment for all.

Climate change is not gender neutral: climate impacts affect women and men differently. For example, women’s greater reliance on agriculture puts their livelihoods at risk from extreme events such as  droughts and floods, compared to men who are found increasingly in services and manufacturing. In addition, women disproportionately lack access to land title, education, and information, putting them in a more precarious position compared to men in the face of climate-related disasters. 

As Professor Jesse Ribot of New York University noted at CIF’s anniversary celebration in Morocco, women don’t lack capacity, they lack opportunity. So how can a climate fund play a role in creating opportunities for women while fighting climate change and #balanceforbetter?

For more than ten years, the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) has put gender at the heart of climate action. Our investments in climate resilience, sustainable forest management, clean technology and energy access work to improve women’s livelihoods, assets, voice, and agency in the drive toward a low-carbon future. Our CIF Gender Action Plan recognizes that climate-smart development and resilience goals cannot be accomplished without attention to women’s needs and interests.

In practice, this means supporting women’s leadership across all CIF programming, from participation in community-level groups, to decision-making around regional social protection programs, to participation in national climate planning processes. It means incorporating gender analysis, actions and sex-disaggregated monitoring and reporting, as well as women-specific activities into our investments. At its core, it means helping countries build on their national and sectoral goals for gender equality, inclusion, and poverty reduction.

Take Tajikistan as an example. The CLIMADAPT program, supported through CIF’s Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), has helped local banks and microfinance institutions better serve women entrepreneurs looking to tap adaptation finance and climate-resilient technologies. The results speak for themselves: in just over a year, the total value of loans to women from participating banks increased from 14 to 19 percent. Through this program, 72 percent of women clients reported higher production capacity and 60 percent of women said they gained more influence in household decisions.

Such investments in climate adaptation and clean energy are starting to result not only in direct benefits to women but also in incremental institutional shifts in how gender interests are considered in policy and planning.

Mexico is an example of this transformational change. Our Forest Investment Program has supported the country’s national forest agency in strengthening gender-responsive planning and budgeting. This has bolstered women’s participation in forest governance within ejido farming communities and expanded their access to training and credit lines for forest enterprises.

And in Haiti, where energy deprivation prevents women and girls from accumulating and managing assets, our Scaling Up Renewable Energy in Low-Income Countries Program has helped the government prioritize gender-sensitive investments, including setting up the Gender and Energy Inter-Agency Commission and supporting off-grid energy enterprises owned and run by women.

The impact of CIF in encouraging gender-positive transformation is global, from supporting women’s leadership in local-level forest management groups in Tajikistan, to inclusive public transport in Vietnam, to gender-responsive decision-making on social protection and public works programs in Zambia and Niger. We know that gender equality and women’s empowerment are central to economic development and environmental sustainability, and that a more gender-balanced world has benefits that go well beyond climate.

Through thoughtful interventions and opportunities for empowerment, women can drive the change we need to see in the world.