Across the world, women are disproportionately feeling the worst effects of these challenges. Women are suffering from a lack of energy access which disrupts economic development and education, deepening gaps in gender equality. Women are also more likely to be affected by energy poverty, something which should be considered and reflected in EU energy policy, including updated NECPs coming later this year.
Currently solar employs proportionally more women than any other energy technology. Renewable energies are already a more diverse sector than traditional energy and fossil fuel sectors; solar tops the charts with 40% FTEs occupied by women worldwide, according to IRENA’s report ‘Renewable Energy: A Gender Perspective’.
"As women become engaged in delivering energy solutions, they take on more active roles in their communities and consequently facilitate a gradual shift in the social and cultural norms that previously acted as barriers to their agency." - IRENA
In Germany, Ukrainian-born entrepreneur Karolina Attspodina has developed the concept of ‘balcony solar’ through co-founding the start-up business ‘We Do Solar’. These flexible solar panels are helping more people to access clean energy, even if they rent their property. Listen to our recent podcast episode with Karolina to learn more.
Further afield, the organisation Solar Sister is helping women become solar entrepreneurs, which has endless benefits for the women involved, and the wider communities. Solar is giving more women access to energy, particularly in rural areas. With solar-powered light operating in hours of darkness, women have more time to complete daily tasks, freeing up time for education or work to earn more money. Simultaneously, these women are able to access energy, education, and improve economic development, all of which positively contributes to building gender equity. Not to mention, that this clean energy is helping reduce emissions and in turn reduce the effects of climate change.
One particularly inspiring story is that of Loveness Sabaya, in Tanzania. Despite being forced to drop out of school and marry a year before she was set to graduate, Loveness didn’t give up on her dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Solar Sister helped Loveness to start her own solar business. Selling solar lamps allows households to have access to lighting in hours of darkness, where usually only shops have access to electricity. Through the income generated from her business, she has been able to build a house for her family.
Listen to our podcast episode with Olasimbo Sojinrin, COO of Solar Sister, who describes how women are disproportionately affected by climate change, and how Solar Sister helps.
Of course, all of the economic and social benefits of local solar power generation have a two-fold benefit, by reducing emissions and supporting the world’s fight against climate change. Women, in particular, are feeling the hardest hitting effects of the climate crisis. UN Women describes how women across the world are more negatively impacted by the reduced access to natural resources, the damage to agricultural sectors (the most important employment sector for women in low-income countries), and their vulnerability in cases of natural disaster and conflict driven by climate change.
This year, the UN official theme of International Women’s Day focusses on technology and innovation. We will continue our work with the sector to ensure that solar technology, and it’s female innovators, are empowered to support not only the energy transition, but a just transition for all.