Designing Climate and Clean Air Projects to Produce Female Economic Empowerment

by CCAC secretariat - 1 April, 2023
Reducing SLCPs can produce health and economic benefits for the most vulnerable, as well as the climate.

The impacts of a changing climate are becoming unavoidable, their disproportionate impact upon women however is not. While on the surface air pollution seems a universal detriment to all people, common gender norms and practices often expose more women to different forms of air pollution than men.  

Cooking over open stoves burning wood, manure, or other forms of biomass in poorly ventilated rooms emits heavy fumes consisting of large amounts of black carbon and other fine particulate matter – and is largely done by women. It is estimated 60% of those dying prematurely from household air pollution are women. Around one million still births annually – almost half of all stillbirths – that can be attributed to air pollution. Further, collecting the fuels for such cooking, lighting, and heating is also often time consuming and potentially dangerous.  Despite women’s increased vulnerability they have capacity to be agents mitigating the impacts of short-lived climate pollutants while also improve their household's economic outcomes.  

The CCAC’s gender strategy launched at COP26 elevates the prioritisation of projects that integrate gender considerations at all stages. The CCAC’s gender strategy now requires most projects to meet a score of 1 on the OECD DAC gender indicators. Designing projects that meet these criteria was the subject of the CCAC’s most recent gender webinar: Gender Responsive Projects for Climate and Clean Air: Case studies from agriculture and waste. 

This approach creates sustainable projects that reduce short-lived climate pollutant emissions and create opportunities for female economic empowerment. The agriculture and waste sectors have been identified as two are areas with potential not only for methane mitigation and air quality improvement, but for female economic empowerment. 

The agriculture sector has contributed to climate change and poor air quality by producing approximately 40% of total black carbon and anthropogenic methane emissions. Agriculture is simultaneously acutely vulnerable short-lived climate pollutant emissions, with 52 million tonnes of staple crop lost each year due to tropospheric ozone resulting from methane. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that women make up 43% of the agricultural workforce globally, and over 60% in the least developed countries. Despite women’s vulnerabilities and productive role in the agricultural sector they are being disempowered only 43 countries have so far addressed gender in relation to agricultural adaptation or mitigation actions in their Nationally Determined Contributions. 


“I've watched over the past couple of decades going into conferences and meetings and reports, and we often see the picture on the front of the report or on the headline is of a woman farmer. But often when we dig underneath, we're not really seeing attention to the needs, priorities, voice and roles of women in agriculture,” said Dorcas Robinson, Senior Manager, Climate Change Policy and Programs at Oxfam during the CCAC webinar. Inkar Kadyrzhanova, Senior Natural Resources Officer with FAO emphasised that the centrality of meaningful stakeholder engagement to build trust and engage women as active decision makers must be integrated from project conception till the final monitoring of results and evaluation. 

The webinar also highlighted how issues of land tenure – which are often patriarchal – also affect women’s ability to invest in more sustainable agriculture, due to their limited ability to take credit lines without land tenure. Banks also often classify agriculture and livestock as risky and there is a lack of specialised investment mechanisms.  

Women’s informal work in waste was also highlighted as a project area which can contributed to reducing SLPCs as well as economically empowering women. Projects such as the Clean Cities, Blue Ocean Programme in the Philippines and Indonesia train women working in informal waste collection on business and leadership skills and provide them with mentorship and funding opportunities to expand or establish waste related business. Such activity not only creates jobs but enables the reduction of black carbon and methane emissions from waste by ending open burning and enabling diversion of organic waste for composting.   

Several other positive project examples from the webinar highlighted many opportunities for how the CCAC gender strategy can further integrate female economic empowerment into projects to reduce SCLP emissions. Maximally reducing SLCPs as well as carbon dioxide is now essential to meeting the Paris Agreement target of limiting warming to 1.5°C.