Cookie Consent by Privacy Policies website Update cookies preferences

Why investing in women is so key to accelerating progress on climate and reversing biodiversity loss across the Hindu Kush Himalaya, and what ICIMOD is doing about it 

It is increasingly clear that failing to overcome gender injustice, as well as being morally wrong, is bad for your bottom line, no matter what your line of work.
Published: 08 Mar, 2024
⏲ 4 minutes Read

It is increasingly clear that failing to overcome gender injustice, as well as being morally wrong, is bad for your bottom line, no matter what your line of work. 
And investing in women is especially key in the spheres where we badly need progress, and in which ICIMOD operates: including development, science, climate and nature. 
Newly published research from the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index shows that in India alone, gender parity would add $770 billion to growth domestic product; and $30 billion to Bangladesh’s GDP. 
Despite such incontrovertible economic incentives, huge hurdles remain within the eight countries of the Hindu Kush Himalayas. 

The Gender Gap Index showed all but Bangladesh lagged behind in terms of political empowerment. It ranked seventh place out of 146 countries, versus Nepal, which ranked 54th, India at 59, Pakistan at 95, China at 114, Bhutan at 125, Myanmar at 141, and Afghanistan at 146.
At ICIMOD, with our commitment to gender a central component of our Strategy 2030, we are doing all we can to buck these trends, and help countries, communities and nature to reap the rewards. 
Within our own operations, we are setting out to leverage our platform by forging stronger partnerships with women's groups, youth, and Indigenous networks; committing to promote their voices through our panels and events, and to provide pathways for their career growth and public speaking, and to monitor and fix instances of gender imbalance. 
We are also setting out to promote equity in recruitment, promotion, and across administrative functions, with a particular focus on enhancing gender and diversity representation at all staff levels, especially in decision-making, professional, and leadership positions. 
Gender is now mainstreamed across our programmes, with specialists and analysts embedded within each strategic group. 
Already, our entrepreneurship work is prioritising the investment of technical support and financial resources in businesses led by or majority employing women and marginalised social groups. 
And, with municipal and national governments so key to shaping natural resources management (NRM) plans, ICIMOD has run trainings to support the development of NRM action plans that harness women’s insight, skills and expertise

As a region, we need to go further.

Study after study has shown how disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis women and girls are.  Already, they comprise 80% of those displaced by it. 
From 2025 on, climate is projected to stop 12 million girls from completing their education annually. And by 2050, up to 158 million more women could be pushed into poverty, with 236 million facing heightened food insecurity. 
This gendered injustice is perpetuated by grossly insufficient finance flows; and inadequately targeted policies. 
Only  0.01 percent of global funding is spent on programmes that tackle both climate change and advance women’s rights. 
And less than 2% of national climate strategies the world over consider women and girls’ different exposure and needs. 
Perhaps, given how underrepresented women are from decision-making processes, this should perhaps come as no surprise. 
At COP27 just 6% of world leaders were female, rising to just a fraction over 10% at COP28, and it was only following a backlash earlier this year, that the presidency of this year’s COP added 12 women to a previously all-male organising committee. 
Decades of research has repeatedly shown that when women can fully participate in economies, it increases financial stability for their households, helps families recover more quickly from shocks and supports a country’s resilience, with a correlation between women’s economic agency and reduced poverty. Experts consider such agency essential to food security. 
By introducing policies aimed at increasing women’s control over their earnings, governments can also help change broader gender norms. When women in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh had their wages paid directly into their own accounts instead of those of male heads of households—and were trained in using those accounts—they were more likely to work outside the home, and both men and women were more likely to support women’s employment. 
The Gates Foundation, meanwhile, estimates that the farms of hundreds of millions of women farmers who are stuck in subsistence poverty on underperforming farms would be up to 30% more productive if female farmers could access the same tools and information as their male peers. 
To solve challenges of the scale the poly-crisis presents will take all of us. We urge those at all levels of all sectors across the HKH to harness, and invest in, 100% of regional talent, skills, ingenuity and tenacity.  We have no time to waste.  

Read in Chinese Read in Bengali


Director General, ICIMOD

Deputy Director General, ICIMOD


Top stories from the region

Signup our newsletter for more interesting content from the Hindu Kush Himalaya

Related posts

envelope linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram