For Africa to be better equipped to fight climate change, cope with disasters and build its green energy sector it needs to empower its women and girls.

This was the view of African delegates discussing the implementation of the Paris Agreement in Katowice Poland recently.

According Mafalda Duarte, head of the Climate Investment Fund, research shows that agreements on the environment are more likely to be ratified and projects around natural resources, such as water, are more likely to succeed if women are involved in decision making.

Addressing needs

Dana Elhassan, senior gender expert at the African Development Bank added that empowering women in the context of climate change empowers a family, a community and a country.

“You cannot solve a problem with half the team. A lot of the unpaid work that women do, such as collecting firewood and water, and caring for the family, are massively affected by climate change – so we have to make sure adaptation initiatives address their needs, vulnerabilities and potential,” she said.

Economic gains

When women are empowered equally to men there is a massive leap forward in economic gains: a recent McKinsey study found that if women were participating economically as much as men, they would be adding 28 trillion dollars to global GDP by 2025.

In Africa, lack of access to finance has resulted in an estimated $42 billion financing gap for women entrepreneurs across business value chains.

Yet unlocking African women’s ingenuity and giving them access to finance could generate technological advancements that help deal with climate change, believes the African Development Bank.