Tajikistan’s transition from a centrally planned to a market economy still needs to be translated into equal opportunities for men and women to fully participate in and benefit from economic growth. Women in Tajikistan still form the backbone of agriculture, livelihoods and natural resource management given the high rates of male out-migration in search of better economic opportunities beyond Tajikistan. Women that are able to generate income are well-respected in the family and the community nowadays as the belief that men should be the breadwinners of the family is now slowly changing to a more balanced distribution of household responsibilities. However, the persistence of gender stereotypes and social norms still negatively affect women’s economic opportunities.
In 2016 the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Climate Investment Funds launched an innovative Climate Resilience Financing Facility CLIMADAPT in Tajikistan to support the uptake of climate resilience technologies by the private sector - small businesses, farmers and households vulnerable to climate change. CLIMADAPT recognizes the importance of promoting gender equality to address the underlying causes of climate vulnerability in order to strengthen resilience to climate change and achieve sustainable development. A gender-sensitive approach is warranted because of the evidence of women’s greater vulnerability to climate change impacts. Their differential vulnerability vis-à-vis men’s reflects the prevailing gender asymmetry in the lack of access to assets and services, which emerges from the socially and culturally defined roles of women and men.
To that end, CLIMADAPT reaches out to women potential sub-borrowers when it comes to the adoption of climate resilience technologies highlighting the benefits for their families and businesses. A baseline assessment of Partner Financial Institutions and a review of the Climadapt portfolio were undertaken in order to understand the connection between gender and climate finance. 29% of the sub-borrowers are women representing 14% of total portfolio volume. Consequently, women sub-borrowers’ average loan size is 1.4 times smaller than that of male sub-borrowers, evidencing that women-led entrepreneurs are generally smaller. Women sub-borrowers are concentrated in residential sector, while male are also represented in agriculture and businesses. The portfolio review included a screening of the selected technologies from a gender perspective, which can help address existing gender gaps and lead to considerable benefits for women and their families and/or businesses. Furthermore, the Climadapt project team started collaborating closely with the National Association of Business Women of Tajikistan to increase awareness of the benefits of adopting such technologies and reach out to potential women clients. “Our Association is conducting various activities to support women entrepreneurs such as trainings, legal advisory, PR and promotion, networking and many others. It is very important that Climadapt is encouraging gender balance, we are happy to unite our efforts”, said Ms. Gulbahor Mahkamova, General Director of National Association of Business Women of Tajikistan during the meeting with the Climadapt team.
Climadapt team also delivered gender awareness workshops to PFIs personnel to improve PFIs understanding of women customer segment, their different needs, priorities and preferences and, based on that, integrate gender considerations in the financing schemes offered. The workshops conducted between 6th -7th September, 2017, in Dushanbe and Khujand brought together more than 40 participants from PFIs - Eskhata Bank, Imon International, Humo and Arvand. A deeper understanding of men and women’s different roles and responsibilities, their differences in accessing finance were facilitated during interactive group exercises, while their understanding of gender roles, stereotypes and social norms was challenged during the discussions. “The workshop was really interesting and stimulating, I learnt a lot about gender equality and its relevance to climate finance. It was very relevant to my job and I was also able to contribute and take something away”, said one of the workshop participants Ms. Hakimova Dilnoz, loan officer of Humo.
It’s still early days for Climadapt, but progress achieved so far has been significant: the program has achieved steady growth in its first year and the facility’s financing is more affordable thanks to contributions from international donors. As a result, over 2,000 borrowers – households, farmers, and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in Tajikistan – have taken out loans for the adoption of climate resilience technologies, such as drip irrigation, greenhouses, energy-efficient windows and boilers, heat insulation, rainwater harvesting and water storage, solar panels and equipment modernization, to name a few. About 29% of all Climadapt portfolio beneficiaries are women and 59% are based in rural areas. The sex-disaggregated data reveals that overall women borrowers tend to use bank finance more often for household purposes for technologies such as energy efficient windows and doors, domestic air conditioning and electric water heaters. While male borrowers reflect a more diversified use of loans in terms of variety of technologies. Climadapt is committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment and throughout the project lifetime will continue contributing to improved climate resilience of women by addressing gender gaps in access to finance in Tajikistan.