Harnessing Climate Finance to Advance Women's Climate Leadership

Sectors and Themes
Expertise Level
Resource Type
Guidance and Frameworks
Developer or Source
Climate Investment Funds (CIFs)

Women, who are disproportionately affected by climate change, bring to the climate finance arena unique perspectives, knowledge, and skills that are essential for effective climate action. Women climate leaders inspire and empower others, challenge traditional gender roles, and drive transformative change toward a more sustainable and just future. The inclusion of women’s expertise, concerns, and insights in adaptation and mitigation policy making can thus enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of resource allocation, ensuring that financial resources are directed toward sustainable and socially inclusive projects. Studies have shown that companies and organizations with more women on their leadership teams are more likely to support pro-environmental corporate actions, achieve better financial performance, and generate higher returns on investments than those with fewer women. Yet, women remain underrepresented in climate policy making at all levels and lag in green economy sectors’ employment. Despite the increasing emphasis on gender mainstreaming in climate finance, investment projects still fall short of addressing the structural and normative barriers that women face in accessing spaces where decisions about climate mitigation and adaptation policies are made. To identify the barriers undermining the advancement of women’s climate leadership and the practical opportunities for climate finance actors to address these effectively, it is important to understand the sociopolitical context for action, along with the specific agency of climate finance actors, as derived from their positions and leverage for change.

In this paper, the authors aim to equip climate finance providers with a comprehensive approach to the following:
• Analyzing the gaps in women’s climate leadership across three domains — state/public institutions, markets/private sector, and civil society;
• Identifying cross-cutting barriers, reflecting formal and informal or “invisible” power, that prevent women from accessing and thriving in leadership spaces; and
• Assessing existing and potential policy and programmatic responses that could promote women’s leadership.

The paper aims to provide a conceptual approach to understanding women’s climate leadership and the barriers women face and highlight selected examples of best practices. Based on this conceptual approach a Diagnostic Questionnaire, which can be used at the project design stage to analyze gaps and identify actions to address structural barriers to women’s leadership is introduced.

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