Accessibility links

Gender Equality and Climate Compatible Development

Project Reference: RSGL-0039

The international community has long agreed on the importance of making gender issues a core consideration in international and domestic policy processes. However, in practice, the gender dimension of development, adaptation and mitigation projects has often been ignored or overlooked. When development and climate-related projects do give attention to gender, the discourse tends to focus on two predominant themes.

Women are seen as more vulnerable to disaster risks and threats to livelihoods. At the same time they are often portrayed as having a more environmentally-friendly behaviour than men. Recognising the agency and capacity of women and girls to empower themselves is a crucial first step to overcome the labelling of women as ‘victims’, to build greater climate resilience and to overall promote gender equality. However, leaving it at this might increase the responsibilities of women without necessarily addressing their needs or providing corresponding benefits. Therefore, it is fundamental to focus on the proactive role that integrating a gender dimension into climate change adaptation and mitigation can play, in terms of achieving development results that are sustainable, low-carbon and equitable. To achieve this, climate-related projects must be delivered in ways that improve the respective capacities of women and men to respond and adapt to the impacts of climate change in their specific contexts, and thus also to benefit from development progress.

This CDKN project tackles this goal. Our research addresses major knowledge gaps in relation to the gender dimension of climate change mitigation, adaptation, and development. These gaps include:

  • Limited compelling evidence on the extent to which a gender-sensitive approach to climate compatible development (CCD) contributes to greater gender equality.
  • Limited evidence on the potential gains of a gender-sensitive approach, and the losses associated with gender-blind approaches.
  • Major knowledge gaps on the gender dimension of climate change mitigation, particularly in the areas of green growth, transport and urban infrastructure.
  • Limited nuanced analysis of gender and climate change that is translated into usable insights for policy and practice.

This CDKN project strengthens the evidence base for gender-sensitive approaches across these fields by assessing the following questions:

  1. What is the evidence of the relevance of gender-sensitive programming in CCD to promote and achieve people’s empowerment?
  2. What socio-economic, political and cultural factors constrain or favour gender-sensitive approaches in the context of CCD?
  3. Does a gender sensitive approach enable better CCD outcomes and if so, in what way?

We demonstrate the extent to which gender sensitivity in climate change and development projects and programming can increase gender equality, paving the way for more effective climate compatible development and contributing to our goal of helping people to empower themselves.

Research associates of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) have undertaken a literature review to analyse how and where gender mainstreaming is carried out in climate change and development projects and identify the major knowledge gaps in these fields. We have summarized its most important findings in a synthesis paper. These outputs are also available in Spanish here and here.

The comparative research is carried out in cooperation between CDKN, Practical Action Consulting and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in urban areas in Peru, Kenya, and India. Final project outputs will include case study policy briefs and a global synthesis report. Research results will be published in early 2016 and presented at relevant conferences, as well as specifically organised workshops.

Project Update December 2015

Early findings of the research on gender equality and climate compatible development were presented during COP21 in Paris. A study comparing the contexts of Peru, India and Kenya, which is currently being conducted by Practical Action Consulting and IDS with support from CDKN was presented. Reports from this project will be published in March 2016.

Some preliminary findings were:

  • Men and women have shared with us how climate change impacts them differently in urban settings. For example:
  1. Urban women often cite food, water and health as key areas where they experience direct impacts of climate change.
  2. People living in urban settings seem to have have weaker social networks than in rural areas, although in times of stress (such as flooding) urban communities pull together and social cohesion is reinforced.
  3. Women who have migrated from rural to urban areas find that their traditional knowledge is no longer relevant or valued in decision-making processes.
  4. Access to basic sanitation is extremely problematic, particularly for women, in flood affected urban settlements. This affects their health and adds to their vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and disasters.
  • We are discovering a range of drivers and constraints to implementing gender sensitive approaches:
  1. Organisations using participatory methods to implement their activities created an enabling environment for women to engage in the project, even if they did not follow an explicit gender approach.
  2. Requirements from donors to address gender considerations are a key driver for organisations to apply a gender approach in climate change initiatives.
  3. Cultural and social barriers continue to restrict urban women’s participation in decision-making at community level and higher up the ladder. On the other hand, many urban women play a leading role in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, for example by transmitting new information (such as evacuation plans) to family members and by participating in disaster simulations and post-disaster recovery.
  4. The lack of awareness and sensitivity towards gender equality within government agencies responsible for CCD policy, planning and implementation limits the transformation of gender relations and reinforces prevailing gender bias.
  5. CCD programming that does not integrate a gender perspective fails to monitor, evaluate and document any progress pertaining to gender relations and equality. Therefore, creating space for organisations to learn and reflect on their practice can help integrate gender issues and improve project outcomes.

Read the full report, Why gender approaches matter to climate compatible development.

In February 2016, SciDev published an article on this work: Gender sensitivity could aid climate projects

Final project reports

Read the synthesis report in full: 10 things to know: Gender equality and achieving climate goals

Read the reports on how gender-based approaches enhanced people’s equality and overall results for climate compatible development:

How do gender approaches improve climate compatible development? Lessons from India (Policy Brief)

How do gender approaches improve climate compatible development? Lessons from Kenya (Policy Brief)

How do gender approaches improve climate compatible development? Lessons from Peru (Policy Brief)

¿De qué manera los enfoques de género fortalecen el desarrollo compatible con el clima? Lecciones desde Perú

Gender approaches in climate compatible development: Lessons from Kenya (full report)

Gender approaches in climate compatible development: Lessons from India (full report) 

To launch the project reports, CDKN, Practical Action Consulting and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) hosted a panel discussion at ODI on 4th May 2016. Speakers from across the project consortium presented original insights on the benefits and challenges of pursuing climate compatible development  from a gender perspective as well as contemplating the 10 things to know about gender and achieving climate goals.

Click here to watch the recording of the event ‘More equality and justice in climate action‘.


CDKN Funding: £204,650

CDKN Project Manager: Dr Virginie Le Masson and Sebastian Kratzer

ODI Research Associate: Lisa Schipper


Image credit: Virginie Le Masson, Central African Republic, 2014

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

Project Highlights