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There is growing evidence that women and girls will shoulder a disproportionate burden of the climate crisis. From decreased chances of survival in natural disasters to higher rates of displacement and domestic violence, a warming planet will exacerbate gender-based problems and create new ones.
Air pollution is also not gender neutral. Women and girls in low-income countries, who tend to be responsible for cooking and heating, are exposed to higher rates of indoor air pollution. These women and girls suffer the worst health impacts of a problem that kills millions around the globe every year. Furthermore, air pollution increases the chance of health complications during pregnancy, increasing the risk of stillbirth, preterm birth, and having an underweight baby.
“The majority of the world’s poor are women. Poorer parts of the population have less capacity to protect themselves, which makes women more vulnerable. Lower-income countries have less capacity to respond to climate change and can also face a higher degree of natural hazards,” said Hanna Roos, Policy Officer at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. “Women have less opportunity for education, employment and therefore income, health care, and property ownership.”
The majority of the world’s poor are women. Poorer parts of the population have less capacity to protect themselves, which makes women more vulnerable. Lower-income countries have less capacity to respond to climate change and can also face a higher degree of natural hazards.”Hanna Roos
Without including women and girls, action on climate – and clean air – cannot be effective. The Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) seeks to reduce emissions from short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), potent climate forcers which are many times more powerful than carbon dioxide. SLCPs contribute greatly to the current air pollution public health emergency which claims more than 7 million lives a year. Methane, black carbon, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and tropospheric ozone are all short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs).
Recognizing women and girls as primary beneficiaries of climate and clean air projects, the CCAC launched its first Gender Strategy in 2022 with the aim of mainstreaming gender considerations into every area of its work. As part of this endeavor, the CCAC is holding its first in a series of gender-focused webinars on September 14th, entitled Integrating Gender Considerations into Climate and Clean Air Projects. This opportunity is intended to provide project implementers with practical skills to develop gender responsive projects ahead of open Calls for Proposals. More broadly, it is a chance for partners around the world to participate in a stronger, more sustainable CCAC.
“Women and girls will shoulder some of the most devastating effects of the crises of climate change and air pollution we are facing today, crises that will only get worse in the years to come if we do not take dramatic action soon,” said Martina Otto, Head of the CCAC Secretariat. “But we cannot forget that women and girls are also part of the solution. Swift and significant mitigation of short-lived climate pollutants is the best chance we have at stopping near-term warming and saving millions of lives from air pollution. The only way that our work on these issues can reach its full potential is if we include the women and girls who will be most dramatically impacted.”
Women and girls will shoulder some of the most devastating effects of the crises of climate change and air pollution we are facing today, crises that will only get worse in the years to come if we do not take dramatic action soon."Martina Otto
Including women and girls in development work isn’t only a way to reduce pressing threats to health and livelihoods—it’s a proven strategy for making projects and initiatives sustainable long-term.
“Research has shown that more diverse teams make decisions faster and deliver superior results. A broader or more diverse team can lead to a more resilient society that makes smarter decisions for everybody,” said Roos. “Also, women can be seen as agents for change rather than being seen as the victims.”
Well over half of global gains in food security in low-income countries in recent decades are thanks to programs promoting women’s empowerment. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation, getting female farmers access to equitable resources could increase food security even more. In 2019, researchers found that female politicians helped push countries to adopt bolder action on climate change. The inclusion of women in conservation and resource management efforts may also improve the outcomes of those projects.
These reasons are part of why Sweden has developed a national gender policy that includes a national strategy to combat violence against women and advance gender equality, both domestically and worldwide. This has made them a global leader in gender mainstreaming and an inspiration for the CCAC as it ramps up its preparations to do similar work.
“We believe that gender integration should be part of all decision-making. Gender integration should be part of all projects and processes, from start to end, so we can analyse how men and women are affected differently,” said Katrin Zimmer of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. “Internationally, Sweden has a feminist foreign policy. Gender integration and protecting womens’ and girls’ human rights is a duty for Sweden and part of our broader foreign policy objectives in reaching peace, security, and sustainable development.”
We believe that gender integration should be part of all decision-making. Gender integration should be part of all projects and processes, from start to end."Katrin Zimmer
The CCAC’s work already intersects with and incorporates gender in several ways, creating a multitude of pathways for the CCAC to fund gender and development work that aligns with its goals. This is particularly true in the CCAC’s work across priority SLCP-emitting sectors.
For example, the CCAC has worked with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) to improve worker skills to transform India and Nepal’s brick sectors. While the brick sector is male-dominated, women participate significantly in more informal ways, often relegated to menial tasks with limited decision-making power or economic mobility.
Similarly, in the major methane-emitting waste sector, many female waste pickers often do the most unsafe jobs. The heavily male-dominated agricultural sector is both a producer of short-lived climate pollutants and is negatively affected by them (methane is a precursor to ozone which can cause significant crop losses). Women are disproportionately impacted by agricultural losses, often receiving less food when households have to ration. Women farmers, however, are a part of the solution, doing outsized percentages of agricultural labour particularly in rural areas.
“Launching a gender strategy signals an exciting and critical new frontier in the CCAC’s work to slash the short-lived climate pollutants super-charging global warming and air pollution,” said Otto. “We are thrilled to be enhancing the efficacy of our existing work and partnering with women and girls around the world who are already hard at work to create a cleaner, safer, and healthier planet for all.”
We are thrilled to be enhancing the efficacy of our existing work and partnering with women and girls around the world who are already hard at work to create a cleaner, safer, and healthier planet for all.”Martina Otto
Our Expert Assistance is a no-cost service that connects you to an extensive network of professionals for consultation and advice on a range of short-lived climate pollution issues and policies.
Experts will provide guidance on technological options, mitigation measures (like those carried out by our initiatives), funding opportunities, application of measurement tools, and policy development.