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What opportunities exist to accelerate action on women’s economic empowerment and climate change? This blog to mark Earth Day 2021 draws on global evidence to provide a summary of the intersections between women’s economic empowerment and climate change and identifies 10 opportunities to accelerate action and raise ambition on climate change and gender equality.

It draws on the Primer on Women’s Economic Empowerment and Climate Change and complimentary Briefing on Women and the Net Zero Economy, launched today by the Work and Opportunities for Women (WOW) Helpdesk and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

Whilst climate change is a global crisis, women and men experience, and contribute to, climate change differently. Women are more likely to die in a climate disaster, be displaced by climate change, or die from pollution. This is not because women are inherently more vulnerable, but because gender, power dynamics, socio-economic structures, and societal norms and expectations result in climate impacts being experienced very differently by women.

Action on climate change that considers gender can create rapid improvements in women’s economic empowerment and promote gender equality more broadly.  Secure land tenure for women increases climate resilience and benefits the environment, especially when combined with indigenous women’s knowledge and practices. Improving access to digital and technological assets such as climate information technologies can help women to manage climate risk, respond to climate variability and access relevant support and information during climate shocks. Social protection linked to resilience of social and ecological systems can contribute to women’s adaptive capacity and provide them with a stepping-stone to other economic opportunities.

Increasing women’s access to decent work and control over economic assets can also lead to better climate and environmental outcomes. Women are vastly under-represented in climate policy and financing processes and yet women’s leadership increases the effectiveness of climate funding by addressing women’s different needs and building on women’s agency. Women’s leadership in business also strengthens climate innovation and delivers stronger climate, environmental and business outcomes such as stronger climate policies and more sustainable business practices. Policies such as gender quotas, women’s leadership training and dedicated funding to engage women’s groups can increase women’s leadership whilst improving climate outcomes.

As COP26 approaches, there are opportunities to accelerate action and raise ambition on women’s economic empowerment and climate change. The primer identifies ten opportunity areas, including promoting women’s leadership in climate processes and in business, engaging women’s organisations in climate processes, ensuring women get decent jobs in green sectors, and building women’s resilience to climate shocks.

For more information on women’s economic empowerment and climate change, and to see recommendations for government and companies on how to ensure a gender just transition to net zero, please read the Primer on Women’s Economic Empowerment and Climate Change and complimentary Briefing on Women and the Net Zero Economy.

SDDirect recognises the importance of climate justice and environmental sustainability for gender equality and social inclusion. Climate change threatens to reverse progress made in development and exacerbate inequalities. SDDirect is acutely aware that the most marginalised groups, who have contributed least to the problem and have the fewest resources to cope, are disproportionately affected by climate change.

You can read more about the linkages between gender equality and social inclusion and climate change through this selection of our work on climate change here: