While climate change is an enormous challenge for all people globally, women and girls bear a disproportionate burden of its impacts. By one authoritative estimate, just 3% of financing for climate solutions goes to women-led businesses.
By sidelining half the population in climate finance decision making, we perpetuate deeply entrenched gender inequities in access to finance and skills-building for women and girls on the frontlines of climate action.
So how can we harness collective action to bridge these gaps?
USAID, with the support of Amazon, has one solution. The recently launched Climate Gender Equity Fund (CGEF) will leverage public and private sector funding to scale climate finance that advances gender-equitable climate action.
Tina Sciabica, Amazon’s Global Gender Equity Lead, Social Responsibility, and Corinne Hart, USAID’s Senior Gender Advisor for Energy, Environment and Climate sat down to discuss how and why USAID and Amazon have joined forces to address the massive gap in gender-equitable climate finance through the new effort.
Why did Amazon and USAID embark on this journey to catalyze gender equity in climate finance?
Tina: Women and girls are uniquely equipped to serve at the front lines of climate mitigation and adaptation. Despite a growing body of evidence confirming the vital role women play in addressing climate change, this has not been met by adequate access to climate finance. In fact, although investors channeled more than $600 billion into climate-related investments in 2021, investments that sought to address gender inequalities or that specifically focused on women-led solutions received less than $20 billion. Further, research demonstrates that women entrepreneurs are not only more likely to innovate to address social needs, they also generate more revenue per dollar invested and produce a greater return on investment for investors.
These are just a few of several data points that illustrate why investing in women is not only the right thing to do, but makes good business sense. For Amazon, serving as a founder for CGEF is one of many steps we are taking to reach our net zero carbon goals.
Corinne: During Administrator Samantha Power’s New Vision for Global Development speech, she emphasized that climate change is an enormous challenge for all people, all over the world. At USAID, we are working hard to ensure our response to climate change empowers women and girls and leverages their talents, skills, and experiences to make climate solutions as effective as possible. As Tina has shared, the data on climate finance that actually reaches women and girls and considers gender differences is stark.
This makes the gender-climate finance nexus a perfect place for USAID to engage — to propel and encourage others to join us in filling the climate finance gap for women.
The launch of CGEF is a critical step in USAID’s broader strategy to enable and empower women as climate leaders. Both our Climate Strategy and the new National Strategy for Gender Equity and Equality highlight strong commitments towards scaling gender-responsive climate programs and empowering women to lead climate action. By partnering with Amazon, we are confident that we can encourage other donors from both the public and private sectors to join us in filling the gender-climate finance gap.
How will CGEF work?
Corinne: CGEF empowers a variety of actors within the climate ecosystem, leading to a multiplier effect to reach the women and girls leading these solutions. This includes catalyzing gender equity in climate finance through grantmaking to intermediaries, investment vehicles, businesses, and community-based organizations developing and scaling women-led and women-benefiting climate solutions.
This could range anywhere from an NGO supporting women waste workers to create sustainable business opportunities for safer and more efficient plastic collection and separation to a business accelerator providing seed funding and mentorship to women-led climate-smart start-ups. CGEF also seeks to fund efforts to increase the number of women accessing the networks and technical skills needed to accelerate climate change technologies.
Tina: We recognize our goals are ambitious, and for that reason know that we can’t achieve them alone. For corporations, foundations, bilaterals, multilaterals, and other funders, we hope you’ll join us by contributing to CGEF. For intermediary organizations and those that may already be working at the nexus of gender and climate, we welcome you to join us in building a strong pipeline of scalable gender-responsive climate solutions.
For gender and climate ecosystem builders, we urge you to continue to produce and commission the rich research and data that makes an even stronger case for putting women at the forefront of climate solutions.
And finally, for individuals, we encourage you to join us as advocates, leaders, and champions for gender-responsive climate action.
What impact do you hope to achieve through CGEF?
Corinne: Imagine you are a woman living in a coastal community in East Africa. Since the ‘80s, women in your community have been growing seaweed as a critical income generation activity.
You’ve noticed as temperatures are rising, the sea is getting hotter, your seaweed is succumbing to disease, reefs are dying, and you cannot reach the cooler waters further off the coast.
You’ve tried to access financing for new sustainable technologies to overcome these climate related challenges, but you don’t qualify. What do you do?
Unfortunately this story is not unique. These are the hardships felt by many women around the world experiencing the stark realities of climate change firsthand. But women and girls are not just victims.
Through a grant from CGEF, the woman described above could access new climate technologies through a local incubator to learn how to access new income generating opportunities, such as through sustainably sourced seaweed products. This type of grant could cause a multiplier effect, not just for her, but for her family and her community — strengthening the ability of the entire local ecosystem to adapt and mitigate the realities of climate change. This is just one illustrative example of the type of impact we hope to achieve through CGEF.
This blog was originally posted on Medium.
USAID is the world's premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID's work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity, demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience.