What does it mean for a climate project to be gender sensitive – Part 1

What does it mean for a climate project to be gender sensitive – Part 1

By Virginie Fayolle, Serena Odianose and Virginie LeMasson

Virginie Fayolle, Serena Odianose and Virginie LeMasson engage in conversation with Sohel Ahmed, Tesfaye Hailu and Alberto Paniagua to discuss how a gender-inclusive climate project should look in practice. This is the first of two blogs on ‘how gender inclusion makes a more bankable project’, read Part 2 here.

The historic Paris climate agreement calls for gender equality and women’s empowerment. The sections of the agreement detailing adaptation and capacity-building efforts call on countries to adopt gender-responsive approaches in both areas (Articles 7 and 11).

Because of traditional gender roles, discrimination and cultural beliefs, climate change will continue to hit women and girls harder than anyone else. Without identifying participatory and gender-responsive interventions, climate change will continue to impact the most vulnerable groups in society.

Simply put, climate change can wipe out decades of gains in gender equality — but gender equality is also important to an effective and sustainable response to climate change. If the world’s efforts to limit it are going to succeed, we need to draw on the talents of all our people: men and women. Women and men can bring about different knowledge, skills and expertise which inform and enrich the response to climate change risks and impacts.

The major global climate funds, such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Adaptation Fund, have recognised the importance of gender considerations in terms of impact and access to climate funding and have adopted gender policies. For instance, the GCF pursues gender balance within its governing structure and establishes a clear mandate to enhance a gender sensitive approach in its processes and operations. As such, the integration of gender considerations within a project proposal is one of the key requirements to access the climate funds.

CDKN interviewed three practitioners to report on their views and perspectives on key successes and learnings in integrating gender into climate project proposals and accessing climate funds:

  • Sohel Ahmed is Chief Operating Officer at Grameen Shakti, a not for profit social enterprise in Bangladesh, focussing on the development of renewable energy systems in rural Bangladesh.
  • Tesfaye Hailu is Project Manager for CDKN Ethiopia, whose team has been supporting the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation receive accreditation status by both the GCF and the Adaptation Fund and also develop project proposals.
  • Alberto Paniagua is Executive Director at Profonanpe, a not-for-profit private entity in Peru, specialised in efficiently raising and managing financial resources aimed at implementing programs and projects that contribute to biodiversity conservation, mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Profananpe has successfully accessed the Adaptation Fund and Green Climate Fund, amongst others.

According to Sohel Ahmed of Grameen Shakti, projects can be gender-inclusive in two, interrelated ways. First, in its design, a climate project should equally address the needs of men and women as project beneficiaries. For example, project goals can aim to correct prevailing inequalities in climate change vulnerabilities and risks between men and women. Paying attention to men’s and women’s specific needs will therefore inform the selection of activities to be included in the proposal. Second, project developers should seek gender balance in the decision-making process and during stakeholder consultations.

The integration of gender also needs to take into account the cultural context, which shapes the needs and priorities of men and women. Alberto Paniagua reported on Profananpe’s experience developing a project with a fishing community in Peru. When trying to integrate women in all the activities of the project, they encountered resistance from the fishermen based on local traditional beliefs. Based on these traditions, women are not supposed to get on a boat with men as they are believed to bring bad luck. After several consultations with the local community, Profananpe designed the project to include additional activities. These were related to the production and commercialisation of fish, which would not clash with the community’s cultural beliefs and would also allow the inclusion and involvement of women within the project.

Understanding the context, including the relevant cultural and social aspects, is therefore a crucial element towards a successful integration of gender. “The whole design of the project may change as a result”, Tesfaye Hailu notes.


Part 2 explores how gender mainstreaming strengthens the ‘bankability’ of climate projects. Read Part 2 here.
This blog was originally posted on the CDKN website. Click here to access it.
Cover photo by Neil Palmer (CC by 2.0)

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