Women4Climate: Leading transformative global change
The Women4Climate Initiative, launched in 2017, has been a one-of-a-kind, transformative programme that has contributed to elevating women’s leadership worldwide. It has advanced inclusive and equitable approaches to climate action, both within C40 and its member cities.
Seven years of continued partnership with the L’Oréal Group, and then Fondation L’Oréal, enabled C40 to grow the Women4Climate community to over 1,000 women across 22 cities and five continents.
To celebrate the success of the programme as it draws to a close, C40 has published two groundbreaking new resources that capture institutional knowledge, best practices and lessons learned. They will enable cities and their partners to continue to champion and engage with marginalised groups that have previously been excluded from climate action decision-making.
- Women4Climate Mentorship Programme Implementation Guide
A one-stop-shop for anyone planning or running a mentorship programme for women and/or marginalised communities, informed by the brilliant impact of Women4Climate. It includes city case studies, checklists, training topics, and advice from mentors, mentees and mayors.
- Women4Climate Online Course Playbook for Cities
An accessible guide for cities using the Women4Climate online course ‘Developing Skills for Women Leadership in Climate Action’ to build staff skills and engage local communities in inclusive, equitable climate action.
The international impact of Women4Climate
When the Women4Climate programme was established by the first woman Chair of C40, Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, global recognition of gender-inclusive approaches to climate action was limited.
Gender-inclusive climate action works to ensure all people have access to newly created good, green jobs in sectors such as construction, energy and health and social care. It invests in women and marginalised communities to create a fair, resilient future for everyone – for example, by ensuring that all city residents have access to a safe and affordable public transport system.
We know that climate breakdown disproportionately affects women, especially Black women, Indigenous women and women of colour, due to gender inequality, racism and discrimination. Yet women and people from marginalised communities are still underrepresented in urban sustainability sectors like energy and transport.
Since it was established, the Women4Climate programme has worked to address these inequalities and make sure climate policies are designed so that everyone benefits from them. In order for this to happen, women and other underrepresented groups – including ethnic minorities, young people, and people who have migrated or been displaced – must be involved in decision-making.
That’s why the vibrant Women4Climate community has:
- enhanced participation in urban climate action for women and people from marginalised communities, improving access to good, green jobs
- implemented inclusive local climate solutions in cities across the globe
- advanced innovative solutions through the Women4Climate Tech Challenge
- hosted international events bringing together thousands of C40 mayors, industry and thought leaders, journalists, mentees and mentors
- pushed gender-inclusive climate action higher up the political agenda, on a local and global scale
Empowering women climate leaders
The Women4Climate mentorship programme provided mentees with training, networking, and mentoring by city policy-makers and directors, entrepreneurs and community leaders.
The programme has supported a range of projects, including community-led initiatives, start-ups and research. Some outstanding examples of women-led action include:
- Teresa Poli’s work to integrate Māori knowledge (the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa/ New Zealand) in engineering education helps tackle racism, supports the transition to green jobs, and is aligned with the Climate Action Plan of Auckland, New Zealand.
- Carla Ruiz’s project Wayru Peru provides portable showers to families experiencing socioeconomic hardship in Lima, Peru. The portable shower reduces residents’ water use and saves money. Wayru Peru also hosts workshops on hygiene, water scarcity and gender justice.
- Namrutha Ramanathan‘s Upcyclie business, based in Chennai, India, diverts fabric waste from the oceans and landfills and provides women with good, green jobs that support the move to a circular economy.
- Gaëlle Guillaume‘s first carbon-neutral community building in Saint-Michel, Montréal, Canada, brings together social economy enterprises and local community organisations under the same roof.
The Women4Climate programme has helped improve women’s participation in climate crisis decision-making and their access to good, green jobs – 68% of mentees surveyed improved their climate programming and leadership skills. A huge 87% were able to raise the profile of their projects through the programme, with several mentees going on to receive critical acclaim for their initiatives.
To further its impact beyond its mentorship programmes, Women4Climate introduced a free, four-week online course. ‘Developing Skills for Women Leadership in Climate Action’ has been successfully completed by hundreds worldwide, including 1,400 women from marginalised backgrounds in Bogotá, Colombia, who undertook a tailored version. Over 90% of participants said the training helped them see themselves as local climate leaders, and 94% said they now better understood the climate crisis.
The course will continue to be free and available online to anyone anywhere wishing to complete it, with a certificate offered at the end of the course.
Women4Climate has also developed research and resources in collaboration with cities. Sydney, Australia, explored the barriers to walking and cycling faced by women, and recommended solutions to make active travel more accessible to everyone. Other cities and their partners can learn from these resources to ensure they are green and equitable places to live.
The city leaders behind Women4Climate
Women4Climate has been a whole of government activity, encouraging collaboration across city departments and raising public awareness of the importance of women’s climate action leadership.
Cities such as Vancouver, Canada worked hard to tailor their Women4Climate mentorship programmes to their climate targets and priorities. Freetown, Sierra Leone closely aligned its mentorship programme with the climate resilience priorities of its Climate Action Strategy – including flooding, waste management, coastal erosion and landslides.
Some C40 cities have incorporated a commitment to gender-inclusive climate action and empowering women leaders on climate action into official policy:
- Lima, Peru, has enshrined the mentorship programme in city law in 2022 as a commitment to empowering women climate leaders in the city.
- Mexico City’s Local Climate Action Strategy 2021–2050 and Climate Action Programme 2021–2030 both include gender-inclusive mitigation and adaptation measures, a gender-inclusive local climate budget and new jobs for women.
- Toronto, Canada, has independently launched another edition of the Women4ClimateTO mentorship programme to run in 2024.
C40’s ongoing work to promote women’s climate leadership
C40 will continue to collaborate with member cities to develop and implement inclusive solutions to the climate crisis, building on C40 flagship programmes such as the Global Green New Deal Pilot Implementation Initiative and cities’ ambition to deliver 50 million good, green jobs.
Research shows that when women participate in climate decision-making, environmental outcomes are better, fairer, and more likely to be supported by the wider public. This will not only tackle the climate crisis, but also help transform gender norms, women’s representation and economic empowerment in cities, to create a future in which everyone can thrive.
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