Investing in women, gender-responsive budgeting key to green transition success, says global accountancy body

Investing in women, gender-responsive budgeting key to green transition success, says global accountancy body
In the journey towards a greener and more sustainable future, women are not just stakeholders, but essential architects of change. Despite a global acknowledgement of this crucial fact, the ongoing socio-environmental shifts risk leaving women behind, worsening historical injustice.

On this International Women’s Day (IWD), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) — the global body for professional accountants — has urged governments, policymakers and employers to actualise the 2024 UN IWD theme, ‘Invest in women: accelerate progress’.

ACCA sheds light on a sobering reality: 80% of those displaced by climate change are women, facing a staggering 14x risk of fatality in climate emergencies compared to men. Shockingly, UN data unveils that women-led households endure an 8% greater loss in income due to heat stress compared to male-led households. Moreover, women are often disproportionately represented in climate-vulnerable sectors like agriculture.

Conversely, women find themselves underrepresented in sectors reaping benefits from the transition to a net-zero economy, such as construction, utilities and manufacturing.

Can gender-responsive budgeting help?

To address this imbalance, ACCA champions gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) — a mechanism to measure gender inequality's impacts and alleviate them through targeted policies and budgets.


GRB can identify and address discrepancies, channelling resources to bolster resilience, especially as women frequently exit the workforce to fulfil unpaid caregiving duties. Moreover, in regions grappling with climate change, women face compounded challenges, including limited resource access, livelihood loss and food insecurity.

Emmeline Skelton, head of sustainability at ACCA, underscores the need for a holistic approach to address these issues. ACCA aligns with the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), directly confronting gender disparities, poverty and inequality.

Inequality within the accounting sector

Even within the accountancy profession, gender disparities persist. Women exit the field at a disproportionately higher rate than men. While around 60% of graduate intake in large accountancy firms comprises women, this figure dwindles to a mere 20-30% at the managerial level.

The ACCA is striving to tackle this issue head-on, providing education through initiatives like workshops on the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). Specifically targeting public sector finance professionals, the global body for accountants aims to demonstrate how gender-responsive budgeting can narrow the widening gender gap.

Finance professionals wield immense influence in the transition to a net-zero economy. ACCA's research underscores the chief financial officers’ (CFO) belief in the finance function's pivotal role in fostering sustainable business models that create enduring value. By embracing upskilling opportunities, finance professionals can become stewards of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) corporate data.

On this International Women's Day, the hope outshines the challenges, highlighting women's potential to drive remarkable opportunities for themselves and society within the green economy's realm.