When Stephanie Akrumah founded the Centre for Green Growth, a Ghanaian organisation that trains women in her country on how to adapt to climate change, she used her own money, convinced she was doing the right thing.
Then she received a small amount of funding from international aid agency CARE to carry out training in communities.
Now the young activist is on the hunt for new sources of finance to expand the education she says is crucial for Ghanaian women to respond to impacts like flash floods on their farms.
But in several months of trying, it has proved "extremely difficult" to find, due to onerous processes and requirements for accessing international funding.
That is effectively freezing out local women's groups working on climate change, she said.
On Monday, as the COP28 United Nations climate conference in Dubai focused on finance and gender equity, new figures showed that women's rights organisations received less than 0.2 per cent of Britain's climate finance in 2022 and less than one per cent of that aid specifically targeted gender equality.
"There has to be another way," said Akrumah, calling for easier, simpler access for women-led groups to obtain money from wealthy governments and global funds.
Nicholas Stern, a leading British economist who co-chairs an independent high-level expert group on climate finance, said ensuring women get the funding they need, to respond to climate change and develop their societies at the same time, is a question both of justice and efficiency.
When it comes to efforts to boost agriculture, health or education, "if you have more women involved, it all works better", he said.
One effective way to get money to women is through direct cash transfers, he said, citing India's digital identification program as a channel to target women with payments that can help build their resilience to threats including climate change.
"The most difficult thing and the most unjust thing for women would be not to do much," he said.
At the COP28 summit, host nation the United Arab Emirates (UAE), backed by more than 60 countries, on Monday launched an initiative aimed at achieving "gender-responsive just transitions" and giving women more economic power so they do not lose out as societies shift to a lower-carbon model.
The UAE said the new COP28 partnership will produce better-quality data to support decision-making, target finance flows to the regions most impacted by climate change, and strengthen education and skills, with a focus on women who are already suffering disproportionately as the planet warms.
Fijian gender minister Lynda Tabuya told an event on the sidelines of COP28 that in her Pacific island nation more powerful cyclones, intense heatwaves and rising seas are affecting women by fuelling poverty, migration, health risks and their care burden.
"These issues deeply affect the safety and the wellbeing of our children, and women and girls," she said.
Climate finance needs to be accessible and beneficial for women, she said, calling for more data on the challenges they face and recognition of their unpaid care work, as well as climate finance that supports green skills training and women-led businesses.
A lack of comprehensive data on how climate change is affecting women specifically and on the funding available to them has hampered efforts aimed at helping them adapt by planting resilient crops or using solar energy instead of dirty diesel generators.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said that to help women, it is first important to get more climate finance flowing for vulnerable island states and developing countries at the global level by addressing the barriers preventing them from accessing money from development banks and the private sector.
"The reality is that most of the things we are trying to do are taking too long to benefit the people it's intended to benefit," she told journalists.
Australian Associated Press