At an event during Cop27, speakers highlighted the important role women and girls play as agents of change in community adaptation.
Specifically, emphasis was placed on recognising, promoting, and investing in women from lower-income communities as leaders of climate resilience, instead of vulnerable or passive beneficiaries of development projects.
“Investments should not only be about improving materials but also to empowering women,” said Ibu Deborah Utami, programme manager at Yakkum Emergency Unit in Indonesia.
“The fact that climate change has brought disproportionate impacts for women and girls in poor communities is already widely known, and it is because women have less access, power, and control over resources and to decide on the issues that really affect their life,” she added.
Conversations at this year’s Cop27 identified that women-focused investments can shift that narrative and allow the skills, traditional knowledge, and actions that already exist in low-income communities to be catalysed.
There is a clear need to scale up adaptation investments in sectors where women play an important role as economic agents, such as in forestry and agriculture, the latter coined by a World Bank project as gender-smart agriculture.
This can be extended to include sectors which have direct and indirect impacts on the wellbeing of women, such as in education and health.
Access to information
It’s important that women-focused investments in adaptation focus on improving access to and control over climate information, resources, and technology and build leadership skills of women through iterative learning processes, directly combating the disproportionate impacts women face at the hands of climate change.
Ibu Syarifah Annggreini, a grassroots leader from Indonesia, attended the Cop27 event and spoke on the importance of having the right type of funding mechanisms in place.
“Flexible funding mechanisms, similar to Huairou Commission’s Community Resilience Fund, allow us to expand and strengthen our activities,” she said.
Annggreini has been working to alleviate the impacts of flooding, unmanaged waste, and food insecurity in urban informal settlements on the outskirts of Jakarta, where climate change has brought heavy and intense rainfall.
As an agent of change, she leads community activities like urban farming to utilise space for growing vegetables, from rooftops to alleyways, and uses unmanaged organic waste as compost. This increases the economy of women’s groups, cleans the streets, and decreases food insecurity at the household level.
“It is important for us to be meaningfully involved in the planning process where we can propose valuable input for programmes and policies in the community – we must also be involved in the evaluation and implementation of these programmes.”
This is where recognition of women’s groups and their role in resilience plays a part.
Women-focused investments in adaptation require strengthening decentralisation processes that provide space for women climate leaders and groups on the ground and which ultimately challenge the notion of women as passive beneficiaries.
“You can have the best and most effective policy framework and institutional arrangement, but it doesn’t work unless you enable women to come and perform in that role,” said Ritu Bharadwaj, principal researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development.
“We should not consider women as vulnerable.”
The Cop27 event, “Putting Women at the Center of Adaptation Investments,” was organised by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to exchange ideas and strengthen the potential of its Community Resilience Partnership Programme (CRPP), which has a dedicated funding window to promote women-focused investments in adaptation. The event brought together representatives from grassroots women’s groups, national governments, financial institutions, and research organisations to discuss how the CRPP can support investments that explicitly strengthen the resilience of women, particularly women from lower-income and vulnerable communities, and empower them in advancing climate actions.
Led by the bank, the CRPP aims to help countries and communities in Asia and the Pacific scale up investments in climate adaptation that explicitly address the nexus of climate change, poverty, and gender. The CRPP is being implemented in partnership with a variety of partners and stakeholders including the International Institute for Environment and Development and the Huairou Commission, and has financing commitments from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom, Agence Française de Développement, and the Nordic Development Fund.
Further information about the CRPP and how it plans to scale up women-focused investments in adaptation can be found here.