Climate change can be devastating for everyone, but it affects women and men differently, according to a new report by the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The report noted that projecys and investments that aim to counter climate change are less effective when they are implemented without women’s meaningful participation.
The EIB’s roadmap for €1trn of climate and environmental investment over the next decade highlights the effectiveness of well‐targeted investment in assisting the “green transition”, and contributing to social development and gender equality.
“Gender-responsive climate actions can strengthen climate and environmental outcomes and often make a solid business case for investment,” the bank’s gender specialist, Moa Westman, noted in the new report, titled Global Solutions, International Partnerships: the European Investment Bank Development Report 2021.
She added, “Investments that take women’s needs into account help expand firms’ customer base, enhance customer satisfaction, improve financial and business performance and attract more funds from other investors looking to make an impact.”
The report highlights some of the ways the EU bank supports women’s involvement, suggesting that other businesses should follow suit. That would be good for development, and good for the economies of Africa countries.
Lend to female entrepreneurs and climate funds managed by women: Women entrepreneurs are more likely to start sustainability-focused businesses and investment funds, but they often lack the money needed to scale up. Lending to those firms and funds can give them the heft they need to make a difference.
Finance projects that tackle deep-rooted inequalities: The EIB’s gender focus means it looks at projects that break down inequalities built up over generations, and which limit the access of women and girls to opportunity and their ability to adapt to the major challenges of the time, such as climate change. Agriculture is a good example.
Family farms run by women tend to be smaller than those run by men. The smaller size and limited access to financial and productive resources means that women generally lack the funds to cover weather-related losses, or to adopt technologies that would make their farms more efficient and resilient to climate change. Improving the conditions of female farmers, however, could increase their farm yields by 20-30%, improve soil fertility and protect ecosystems.
Helping clients set gender targets: The energy sector is one of the least diverse sectors, with women accounting for only 32% of the workforce. Women in rural communities spend up to 14 hours a day on unpaid care work.
Much of that work is dedicated to collecting firewood, limiting the ability of women and girls to pursue educational or other productive activities. d.light, one of the EIB’s investments in East Africa, provides a pay-as-you-go scheme that enables low-income households to buy lanterns and home energy kits powered with solar energy. The lanterns enable women shop owners to extend their business hours well into the night.
“Climate investors need to think carefully about how to best promote gender equality in climate action and environmental sustainability,” the report notes, “Meanwhile, it should also empowering women and building new markets, and more integrated investments can help solve the interlinked crises of climate change, environmental degradation and social inequality in a way that leaves no one behind.”