Africa’s commitment to integrating gender in climate change adaptation polices and initiatives

A recent webinar shares how gender integration into climate change policy can alleviate gender inequities in numerous sectors. (Photo: AfDB Group)


Actors across Africa show case their commitment to ending gender-based inequality by integrating gender into climate change policy and initiatives.  


Africa will be impacted disproportionately by climate change when compared to the continent’s contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions (less than seven percent[1]). Disadvantaged groups, such as women and young people, will experience the brunt of these impacts, as their ability to cope is often compromised by limited access to resources and power. 

In order to meet the needs of women, knowledge regarding the gender-differentiated impacts of climate change needs to be more robust. Where data exists, it is at a small-scale, project level where sex-disaggregated data has been collected. As a result, policy- and decision-makers are not aware of the need for gender-differentiated policies, and adaptation and mitigation actions. Research, policy, and other initiatives can help close this gap by clearly linking climate change and gender.

Policy responses and adaptation initiatives

Across Africa, policy and special initiatives have aimed to incorporate gender inequality in the face of climate change[2]. Similarly, the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) implementation of a ten-year strategy with the twin objectives of inclusive and green growth (Figure 1) supports adaptation strategies that benefit men, women, and young people. This strategy will widen access to economic opportunities for Africans across age, gender, and geographic divides. Accompanying this plan is AfDB’s Gender Strategy 2014-2018, which strengthens women’s legal status and property rights, economic empowerment, and knowledge management and capacity building.


Figure 1: Climate change and the gender gap (Source: AFDB)


Additionally, the Paris Agreement provides an opportunity for African leaders to strengthen gender-responsive national contributions to adaptation and mitigation strategies, as the agreement explicitly includes women as partners. To make this work, accessible technologies and financial resources must be included in future plans associated with the Paris Agreement.

Policy should also be informed by data. As existing climate change policies do not include specific responses for men, women, and youth, evidence-based, participatory processes that draw on sex-disaggregated data should be employed.

Encouraging institutional gender mainstreaming

Civil society organizations (CSOs) are locally-based intermediaries between national governments, research institutions, NGOs, and those working at the grassroots level. Through advocacy activitiessuch as equal participation of both men and women in learning platforms, capacity building, and evaluationsCSOs can encourage climate change policies and adaptation actions to be gender responsive and transformative.

Youth engagement

Overall, young people are losing interest in farming. There is a need for organizations that provide a platform for young people's voices to encourage investment in farming and provide a voice to young people in agriculture who must cope with climate change. The Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN), a network across 27 African countries, is one such organization. CSAYN's activities include establishing climate-smart agriculture (CSA) national lobbying fora; designing experiential CSA fields; dialoging at national, regional, and global levels; and creating platforms for disseminating information.   

Integrating gender and youth into climate change initiatives will ensure adaptation is effective and realistic. Working together, various actors, including development organizations, CSOs, researchers, and marginalized individuals, can work together to implement adaptation actions that ensure the equal participation of men and women, adults and youth, in decision-making processes.

The role of partnerships

Also important to this work is the use of partnerships. The recently launched Inclusive Climate Change Adaptation for a Sustainable Africa (ICCASA) project aims to understand and integrate gender in climate change adaptation planning and implementation across the continent. ICCASA is a partnership funded by the AfDB and the Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation Trust Fund (KOAFEC) and implemented by partners including the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), African Working Group on Gender and Climate Change (AWGGCC), Women in Global Science and Technology (WISAT), and World University Service of Canada (WUSC). 

To inform the public about the project and dialogue about gender and climate change issues, the first ICCASA webinar was held on July 12, 2018. Keep an eye out for the second webinar, slated for November 2018.

[1] Nazrul Islam S, Winkel J. 2017. Climate Change and Social Inequality. DESA Working Paper No. 152. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations. 

[2] African Union Strategy on Climate Change (2014); Africa Thriving and Resilient: The AfDB Group’s Second Climate Change Action Plan (2016 - 2020); AfDB Strategy for 2013-2022; SADC Policy Paper on Climate Change Policy; EAC Climate Change Policy (2013); IGAD Regional Climate Change Strategy (IRCCS); Gender and Climate Change Action Plans (ccGAP) developed by Mozambique, Egypt, Tanzania, Liberia, Zambia; NDCs, NAPs, REDD+ and National Communications (NC).  

This series was made possible thanks to funding from AfDB and KOAFEC. 




Mary Nyasimi is a Project Manager and Kathlee Freeman is a Communications Consultant for CCAFS Gender and Social Inclusion. Dana Elhassan is a Senior Gender Expert, AfDB East African Development and Business Delivery Region.