CAIRO - 17 March 2022: For climate action on the ground to be locally led, there is a growing global momentum that attention should be directed to tapping on women’s local knowledge and their influence on communities, and to channel gender-smart climate finance into locally led initiatives, which have been deemed as critical in promoting community resilience and adaptation to climate change.
Examining the nexus between girls’ education, gender-smart climate finance, and tapping on women’s local knowledge, Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation, H.E. Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat, co-organized and co-hosted on Tuesday the event “Empowering Women and Girls through a Just Transition to a Green Economy” alongside UK’s Minister Vicky Ford, Minister for Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean at the 66th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
With the participation of Katharine Stewart, Group Corporate Responsibility Director at the Associated British Foods, Lebogang Mulaisi, Labour Market Policy Coordinator at Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Jessica Espinoza, CEO of the 2X Collaborative, and Tamilore Omojola, a Malala Fund fellow who actively advocates for girls’ education, the event presented useful strategies to promote the meaningful inclusion of girls and women in climate change mitigation, adaptation, and decision-making.
The event also shared hopeful and inspiring stories of women from the frontline that challenge the assumption that women are merely passive victims in the fight against climate change, as women represent the heart of their communities. In Africa in particular, they have been the providers of food, keepers and transmitters of local knowledge, and decision-makers on energy use at household level.
In her remarks, the Minister of International Cooperation, H.E. Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat, noted that the COP26 summit manifested that there is room for scalability in terms of gender-responsive climate action, as it showcased the opportunities that women’s participation can create through the participation of women entrepreneurs, women indigenous leaders from different continents, as well as women civil society leaders.
“Women will not be the victim, but the agents of change in climate action, which is a key message we want to push forward going onwards to COP27. Our COP27, which will be held in Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh, will place gender at the heart of climate action to address all of the components of climate action: from action, to adaptation, to mitigation and resilience,” the Minister noted.
At COP 26’s ‘Advancing Gender Equality in Climate Action’ event, H.E. Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat gave a speech where she emphasized that financing mechanisms and technological developments must reflect women’s priorities and needs, and ensure gender-sensitive investments in programmes for adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer and capacity building.
The Minister added that Egypt’s National Climate Change Strategy 2050 addresses gender considerations and mainstreaming, acknowledging that women and girls are disproportionately impacted by climate change, and recognizes the diverse roles, needs and contributions of women.
UK’s Minister Vicky Ford noted in her remarks that promoting gender equality prescribes pathways to a gender just green economy, and that providing 21st century skills training and STEM education for women should be placed as a priority.
As a youth advocate who has worked on capacity building for women in your community, Tamilore Omojola noted that from her own experience on-ground, education is regarded as highly important to empower women and girls, as once they have access to information and education, they feel more empowered and are able to make key decisions and provide proper solutions for their communities.
“Women need to be empowered to make critical decisions in their community, as climate change has a direct impact on communities’ livelihoods. In 2021 alone, the Malala Fund estimated that climate change prevented 4 millions girls from completing their education,” she added.
The event also highlighted that investments that integrate both gender and climate lenses can act as an impact amplifier, yet there are still barriers. “The first challenge that we still see that inhibits women’s access to climate finance is that women are still seen as victims of climate change, rather than as agents of change,” Jessica Espinoza noted. She added that progress is needed to develop financial products that are both climate-smart and gender-smart, as gender-smart climate finance accelerates climate action.
Re-designing the way supply chains work and how they prioritize environmental and social needs, Katharine Stewart highlighted the importance of having local partners that operate at the local level, speak local language and understand the local context to push for locally led climate action.
She referred to the work of CIWA institution, which is the first of its kind in India that is exclusively devoted to gender related research in agriculture, and helped build the capacities of women farmers through local trainers who understood the local context of the communities that they were communicating with.
For her part, Lebogang Mulaisi underscored the importance of policy in pushing for women’s skills development and skills acquisition, as women are still seen as more suitable for soft and administrative jobs rather than green jobs. “We need to be more purposeful in our development of policy to equip women with substantive and hard skills in the green economy.”
The Ministry of International Cooperation’s portfolio includes 13 projects that identify gender equality (SDG 5) as their primary objective, with a total value of $78 million. To promote gender equality and empower all women and girls, and mainstream gender equality across projects in various sectors, gender equality had emerged as a cross-cutting theme in 99 projects worth $6.7 billion.