The impacts of climate change affect women and men differently. Women are the hardest hit by dramatic shifts in climatic conditions. Women’s mortality from climate-related disasters is higher than that of men. Compared to men, domestic burdens (e.g. collection of firewood and water) of women increase substantially with various manifestations of climate change.
Women tend to rely more on natural resources for their livelihood. Any decline in land and biomass productivity affects women more than men, especially in rural areas. In urban areas, after climate-related disasters, it is harder for poor women than for poor men to recover their economic status and welfare. Women, as well as men, significantly contribute to combating climate change as knowledgeable small-scale farmers and leaders of climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives.
GCF is the first climate finance mechanism to mainstream gender perspectives from the outset of its operations as an essential decision-making element for the deployment of its resources. GCF has placed gender as a key element of its programming architecture, and its commitment to gender equality centres on gender-responsive climate action programmes and projects that benefit women and men.
Gender mainstreaming is central to the GCF’s objectives and guiding principles, including through engaging women and men of all ages as stakeholders in the design, development and implementation of strategies and activities to be financed. The GCF Governing Instrument states that: “The Fund will strive to maximise the impact of its funding for adaptation and mitigation … promoting environmental, social, economic and development co-benefits and taking a gender-sensitive approach.”
Thus, gender equality considerations should be mainstreamed into the entire project cycle to enhance the efficacy of climate change mitigation and adaptation interventions, and ensure that gender co-benefits are obtained. This applies to all projects, not only those intended from the outset to center on women or to have a gender focus. Gender mainstreaming is fundamental to any project intervention and does not necessarily signify additional costs; in fact, mainstreaming gender makes climate interventions more effective and efficient.
Gender action in practice
GCF’s gender-responsive approach is captured in the GCF Gender Policy and Action Plan, which was adopted by the Fund’s governing body in 2015. Through the Gender Policy and Action Plan, GCF commits to:
- Gender equality and equity;
- Inclusiveness in all activities;
- Accountability for gender and climate change results and impacts;
- Country ownership—through alignment with national policies and priorities, and broad stakeholder engagement, including women’s organisations;
- Gender-sensitive competencies throughout GCF’s institutional framework—skills, knowledge and behaviours acquired from training and experience that enable GCF Secretariat staff members to apply a gender-lens throughout their work; and
- Equitable resource allocation—so that women and men benefit equitably from GCF’s adaptation and mitigation activities.
How does the GCF gender policy work in practice?
GCF provides guidance to Accredited Entities submitting funding proposals on the type of gender documentation required during the project planning, preparation and development stage.
This entails an initial gender and social assessment that must be included with the funding proposal. The assessment includes a snapshot of the gender equality situation in the region, country or project area; the gender issues that may be relevant to the proposed project; and the opportunities to bring about positive change for both women and men.
Accredited Entities are also requested to submit a gender and social inclusion action plan at the project preparation stage—the plan should indicate the gender-responsive activities the project will undertake; provide relevant gender-performance indicators; sex-disaggregated targets; timelines; responsibility lines; and a budget against each proposed activity.
Submitting a gender and social inclusion action plan is a unique feature of GCF’s funding proposal process, and GCF is the only climate finance mechanism to call for such a plan. Going forward, GCF aims to make the initial gender and social assessment and the gender and social inclusion action plan obligatory documentation in the funding proposal submission process.