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Women: A Key Driving Force in the Green Transition

Women's Role in the Green Economy: ACCA's Call to Action


Women: A Key Driving Force in the Green Transition

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) shines a spotlight on the pivotal role women play in driving the green economy forward. However, ACCA warns that women are at risk of being left behind in the green transition, highlighting the urgent need for governments, policymakers, and employers to invest in women to accelerate progress, in line with the 2024 UN IWD theme, ‘Invest in women: accelerate progress.’

ACCA’s research reveals startling statistics: 80% of people displaced by climate change are women, and women are fourteen times more likely to die in climate emergencies than men. Additionally, UN data shows that households led by women lose 8% more income to heat stress than those led by men.

Emmeline Skelton, head of sustainability at ACCA, emphasizes the urgent need to address the gender imbalance in sectors affected by climate change. She notes that women are overrepresented in sectors like agriculture, where they face disproportionate exposure to climate-related events, while being underrepresented in sectors benefiting from the transition to net-zero, such as construction, utilities, and manufacturing.

ACCA is tackling this inequality through gender-responsive budgeting (GRB), which identifies and addresses gender inequalities through targeted policies and budgets. Jessica Bingham, regional lead for policy & insights – EEMA and UK, highlights how GRB can help allocate resources to build resilience, particularly for women who often face challenges balancing unpaid caring responsibilities with work, exacerbated by climate change.

The accountancy profession is also grappling with gender disparities, with women leaving the profession at a much higher rate than men. While around 60% of graduate intake in large accountancy firms are women, this figure drops to an estimated 20%-30% at the manager level.

ACCA is addressing these issues through educational initiatives like workshops on the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). The organization is also working with public sector finance professionals to explore how GRB can be used to bridge the gender gap.

Finance professionals, according to ACCA research, play a crucial role in the transition to net-zero. CFOs believe that the finance function can drive sustainable business models and long-term value creation. By upskilling, finance professionals can become the guardians of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) corporate data.

Skelton emphasizes the importance of taking a holistic approach to these issues, aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to address gender, poverty, and inequality. She believes that women can create tremendous opportunities for themselves and society in the green economy.

On this International Women’s Day, ACCA’s message is clear: investing in women is not just a matter of equality, but a strategic imperative for a sustainable and inclusive green transition.

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