The transition to a clean and secure energy and efforts to combat climate change hinge on several key factors. One such critical element is closing the gender gap to fully include women in the technical, scientific, and business development of the renewable energy sector.
According to IRENA’s World Energy Transitions Outlook 2022 report, by 2030 there will be 139 million jobs in the energy sector worldwide. Of those jobs, 38.2 million will be in renewable energy and 74.2 million in other energy transition-related sectors. This offers a chance to reskill and upskill a varied and balanced transition workforce. Leveraging women’s participation as change agents can encourage, influence, and speed up the energy transformation.
But, despite the sector’s importance, notable gender gaps persist in the energy sector, which has been historically male dominated. Women lag behind men in leadership and technical jobs in the renewable energy sector and represent just one third of the renewable energy workforce worldwide, according to IRENA. The gender gap is driven by unequal access to education, limited access for women to technical skills and training opportunities, as well as unfair company policies, among other factors.
To mainstream gender, IRENA has been developing groundbreaking reports over the years. The Agency launched a new publication in October 2022 as a part of the “A Gender Perspective” series devoted to the solar PV sector. Acknowledging the valuable contributions of the women in IRENA’s workforce, Director General Francesco La Camera, said in a message to staff, “At IRENA, we take pride in our commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace, where everyone feels valued and respected. We believe that diversity is a strength, and we are committed to promoting gender equality in the renewable energy community and beyond.”
“We remain committed to continuing this series of reports and expanding our activities, to dig deeper into the matter and contribute to boosting women’s participation in all contexts,” he added.
On 8 March, in honour of International Women’s Day, women employees at IRENA shared their views on gender equality and the significance of women in the field of renewable energy. “Creating equitable opportunities and policy inclusion are key to making women agents of change in global climate responses,” said Karen Grajeda, Chief Operations, Management and Liaison, IRENA. “We owe it to everyone, regardless of gender, to be change agents by building a fair, equal, kind, and caring workplace,” she added.
Speaking of ways to promote women’s leadership, and ensure that everyone has equal access to opportunities, Celia García-Baños, Programme Officer, IRENA, said, “Women must be enabled to participate in the energy transition through interdisciplinary networking, skill development, coaching, advocacy, and mentoring.”
Gayathri Nair, Associate Programme Officer, Renewable Energy Grid Integration, IRENA, said promoting the participation of women in the renewable energy sector is vital as the sector plays a bigger role helping to provide access to energy for all.
“Sustainable development will be more inclusive with more women in the workforce. More opportunities for women and organisational hiring practices, prioritising the best female talent, regardless of race or color, can be credited with increasing the number of women working in the renewable energy sector. This encapsulates IRENA’s philosophy,” she added.