Putting women at the forefront of the sustainable energy movement
International Women's Day is a celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. We have incredible advocates and leaders in the energy access and sustainable energy sectors, including our CEO Damilola Ogunbiyi. At SEforALL, we are honored to work alongside these women and other partners putting gender equality at the heart of their work to meet Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7).
Unfortunately, there are not enough success stories of women driving progress on SDG7 because the energy sector falls behind on gender balance. From its 19 percent female labor force participation rate compared to 30 percent across other industries to extremely limited management and board appointments to the shortage of girls and young women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, the energy sector must significantly improve its efforts to become gender-inclusive.
Additionally, women working in the sector tend to lack access to support networks, role models and champions to help advance their career as well as ‘female-friendly’ public and company policies to help them realize their goals. Women in most developing countries suffer more than men from the implications of energy deficits and energy poverty. They are under-represented in consultations or in the design and delivery of energy services.
This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that women are less likely to drive policy- and decision-making and are under-represented in governments and board rooms around the world. With UNDP’s just-launched report documenting that 9 out of 10 people hold a bias against women and tracking reports such as Equal Measures 2030’s SDG Gender Index showing how much we have left to achieve, it is clear that we are off track on multiple fronts.
Advancing equality between women and men in the global workforce could add up to USD 12 trillion to global GDP by 2025 and Africa alone could add USD 316 billion to GDP in certain scenarios. In the energy sector, the potential benefits of gender balance and equality are vast. Women’s leadership has proven to increase pro-environmental corporate actions, profitability, and improve inclusive decision-making and cross-sector collaboration, all critical for last-mile energy distribution and achieving SDG7.
"To jumpstart progress on SDG7, women have to be part of the solution. We need to provide pathways for women to enter the energy sector workforce, for them to move into leadership positions and for them to realize the full benefits of having access to sustainable energy." Damilola Ogunbiyi
The market and consumers are better off when women participate equally in designing energy products and services that will eventually serve women. A gender-sensitive approach to our work has the potential to drive impact outside the sector as energy products and services increase women’s financial inclusion, empower them as community leaders, or support their growing businesses.
As we plan for the next ten years to 2030, SEforALL is renewing its commitment to putting women at the forefront of the sustainable energy access movement. We will identify, support and champion the next generation of female leaders to help close energy access gaps and ensure that no one is left behind in the energy transition. We will identify pathways to invest in the capital of young women to build a pipeline of skilled workers, ready to tackle the energy access needs of their communities. Greater visibility and support provided to current leaders in sustainable energy will strengthen our collective movement and accelerate inclusive progress toward our goals.
Our work is already underway, including through a partnership with the Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition with whom we have launched a mentorship program to support women eager to build their personal capacity and advance in their current positions in the energy access sector. For the next nine months, women working in Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Zambia will meet with a mentor and participate in a series of capacity-building webinars. In the coming weeks and months, we will look to scale up existing programs like this and develop and launch new programs to match the ambition required in this decade of action.
At SEforALL we are also committed to promoting gender equality and empowerment within our own structure and incorporating equity principles into the design and implementation of all our programs and events. Kicking off the 'Implementation Decade' of the SDGs, we look forward to scaling these partnerships to ensure women’s empowerment within the energy transition and support women as active agents and leaders of SDG7.