Evelyne Ligoberth Kapaya is a carbon champion. From her home in Katuma Village, Tanzania, she spends much of her time discussing deforestation and climate change. She sits down with local residents to raise awareness, not only of the impacts of tree felling, but also of solutions to the crisis. She is one of the many women around the world working to safeguard the future of our environment and is very much deserving of our celebration this International Women’s Day.
Every year on the 8th of March, we have an opportunity to acknowledge female achievements around the globe. However, at the same time, International Women’s Day is also a call to action. We need to better recognise women from history; we need more women in leadership positions and we urgently need more female voices, like Evelyne’s, in climate solutions.
Women are disproportionately affected by climate change
While the impacts of climate change undeniably touch the whole community, 68% of the 130 studies reviewed by Carbon Brief found that women and girls face more climate-related health risks than men and boys. Indeed, the article reports how women and girls are more likely to be adversely affected by harvest loss and are often the ones walking further to collect water during times of scarcity. Overall, the report concludes that existing gender inequalities tend to be exacerbated by changes to the climate and although women are not always experiencing the worst health outcomes of climate change, they are disproportionately affected.
Climate mitigation will be stronger with women
Given this disproportionate impact, women must be actively involved in the development and implementation of climate solutions for they have lived experience of the unique risks climate change presents for them in their area. This is especially important when the allocation of carbon revenue is decided.
Faraja Oswald Alberto works as a Finance Officer for Carbon Tanzania’s Ntakata Mountains project. Developing short and long term accounting plans with her local community, she has seen first hand how carbon finance has changed the area:
“Before the start of the Ntakata Mountains forest protection project, there was an invasion and massive clearing of forest areas. Our lands were badly damaged. After that, the community decided to make a plan for the best use of land and implemented a forest carbon project. Gradually, the environment began to improve as the community received carbon finance to support sustainable projects and forest conservation.”
This forest conservation has been supported by the growing number of female Village Game Scouts trained in Tanzania. Faraja continues:
“Village Game Scouts are now fully employed by their respective villages to protect the forests and are paid a monthly salary from the carbon credit revenue. Groups of entrepreneurs benefit from small loans made possible by carbon finance from Cocoba (Community Conservation Banks) to run their various wealth-producing activities. This is improving the local, community economy.”
Tatu Amani Mwita is a female entrepreneur who has benefitted from Cocoba finance. She owns a small restaurant in Kapanga Village which received loans from Cocoba to purchase equipment and expand the size of her restaurant. Now, Tatu employs six other women and her restaurant can run independently of loans.
Equity is essential
This year, the theme of IWD is equity. It was chosen to show how offering equal opportunities can still be exclusionary. On the face of it, an equality of resources and opportunities seems positive. Such a state is, afterall, an improvement when compared to much of the inequality we see today. However, equality does not allow for difference – everyone receives the same regardless of circumstance. Equity, on the other hand, recognises differing situations and allocates resources and opportunities accordingly. Understanding these differences is an essential first step to building, and facilitating, effective, equitable, climate solutions.
Equality-based solutions and equity-based solutions
What do these differences look like in practice? Well, equality-based solutions tend to be founded in impartiality whereas equity-based solutions consider the diverse and varying experiences of individuals and tailor solutions to account for these differences. As a result, equity-based solutions are more long-term for they address issues on a deeper level than those founded on equality. For women, this distinction is key. For instance, the women affected by climate-induced floods in California will have a radically different experience to women facing extreme flooding in Pakistan. Therefore, solutions must be context-specific if they are to be effective.
For climate, we must ensure that nature-based solutions are also equity-based solutions which actively involve and seek the participation of women. And this need not be confined to one day a year. Every day you can consciously amplify the voices of women, share their work with your networks and celebrate the achievements of your female colleagues. See our flagship portfolio projects to find out how carbon finance supports women.
Picture credit: Carbon Tanzania and Roshni Lodhi.