By Joke Kujenya
IN the fight against climate change, ambition must align with action. International climate negotiations have set their sights on achieving gender balance, but the missing piece of the puzzle remains funding.
The global climate crisis in an unfolding disaster and the brunt of its impacts is not evenly shared.
Women and girls, burdened by gender inequality, social norms and economic disparities bear the overweight disproportionate weight of this crisis.
These pointers were contained in the recent analysis of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
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“The climate change, obviously the defining crisis of the current time, which affects us all, has its impacts far from being gender-neutral. And, as the world clamours for gender parity in international climate negotiations, the resounding question is: ‘where is the funding for these transformative changes,?” queries the IIED in its analysis.
The report says as the struggle for gender equality in climate negotiations persist, the demand for women and girls currently at the intersection of its socio-economic disparities still carry the brunt of the microclimate crisis. Hence, the demand for equal representation of women at the United Nations (UN) keeps growing louder by the day. Yet, the linchpin of these aspirations remains the often-overlooked need for substantial financial support.
Giving a closer look at vulnerability, women in developing countries are especially noted to be susceptible to climate change’s far-reaching impacts. Their livelihoods, as well as those of the families they support, are intrinsically tied to local natural resources.
Climate change disrupts their daily lives, affecting fundamental household duties such as sourcing food, water and cooking fuel. The stark reality is that gender-responsive climate actions must become their cornerstone of resilience.
Describing women as agents of change, the analysis notes that the resilience-building journey necessitates acknowledging women’s pivotal role within communities.
“They are more likely to bear the brunt of climate change and they possess a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to adaptation and mitigation strategies. Thus, empowering women through gender-responsive climate planning and actions is not just a moral imperative, but now more as an environmental need.
Calling for international agreements and frameworks for change, the IIED analysis says several of such including the Paris Agreement, the UNFCCC gender action plan (GAP), and the Sustainable Development Goals, have resoundingly called for gender-responsive actions in climate negotiations.
These actions, as noted, include ensuring women’s equal representation and participation at all levels of climate decision-making, the integration of gender equality and women’s empowerment throughout climate negotiations, and as well, securing adequate funding for gender-responsive climate actions.
Implementation, at all levels, was then called for on the journey to achieve equality in UNFCCC processes which began in 2001, and has continued to progress, noting that, COP25, in 2019, marked a significant milestone when it adopted the Lima Work Programme on Gender (LWPG), and the related GAP.
This programme aims to advance gender equality and empower women and girls within the UNFCC process, fostering gender-responsive actions at the national level.
The analysis also entails engaging women in climate planning, programmes, and projects, so as to embed gender equity into national policies and development plans, ensuring that countries’ climate action plans – such as National Determines Contributions – and long-terms strategies are gender-responsive.
IIED analysis also notes that progress has been made in terms of representation, participation, integration and empowerment, yet, financial support for gender-responsive climate action still remains inadequate.
Arguing that the funding dilemma has created a glaring gap, particularly for poorer countries and the least developed ones; an OECD report states that a mere 24% of climate-related official development assistance is allocated to gender equality as the primary objective.
When it comes to adaptation funds for LDCs, less than 3% is directed towards gender equality in climate change responses, the report states.
On the imperative of finance, in LDCs, the financial landscape falls short of adequately supporting projects addressing both climate and women’s rights. Even prominent financial mechanisms of the UNFCCC, such as the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the Green Climate Fund (GCF), struggle to fully integrate gender equality in their funding proposals and implementation phases.
This financial shortfall threatens the attainment of both the Paris Agreement’s goals and the aspirations of the GAP.
The IIED states that finance remains an empowerment tool to bolster gender-responsive climate action for varied and impactful necessity for women to provide them with access to microfinance loans to kickstart or expand climate-resilient income-generating activities, climate adaption projects as climate-smart agriculture, investing in climate-resilient infrastructure, backing women’s participation, training and capacity-building, as well as elevating awareness about the import of raising gender-responsive actions among all stakeholders.
It therefore calls for more finance for women to propel their participation in climate planning and action, noteworthy surge in finance flows, enabling access at both international and national levels, stressing that a swift and accelerated effort is needed to ensure climate finance directly reaches women, allowing them to lead the charge and transform their knowledge into practical action.