The highlight of this week has been International Women’s Day, which celebrates the achievements of women and aims for a more gender inclusive world. It’s a timely moment to reflect – not just on why climate innovation is important to women, but why women are so important to climate innovation.
One of the oft-cited arguments in the gender and climate change debate is that women, particularly in developing countries, experience a greater burden due to the impacts of a changing climate. As our Inspire story this week shows, the task of finding and fetching water often falls to women and girls, preventing them from gaining an education. This situation is compounded in times of drought, leading to a systemic disadvantage. In this case, innovation is easing the burden, freeing up more time to spend on education.
Representation and rights
The other aspect of the gender and climate debate is that there is still a significant gap in the representation of women in governance and decision-making. How can the rights and needs of all groups of people be fulfilled if they are not truly represented?
Because of a lack of representation and rights in many societies, women and young girls do not enjoy the same access to healthcare as men, leading to greater vulnerability. This disadvantage can extend to education and employment, with women suffering a skills gap and missing out on the benefits of economic development.
Representation issues also lead to gaps in innovation. In the UK, the proportion of UK women in entrepreneurial activity is around half the level of men. One of the greatest barriers to female entrepreneurship is having limited access to relevant role models. Women are also less likely to seek external sources of finance than men. More widely in Europe, women are underrepresented in terms of creating innovative enterprises – only 31 percent of entrepreneurs in the EU are women, according to the European Commission.