On March 8, the International Women’s Day was celebrated worldwide. ALER could not fail to mention in our newsletter as women play a key role in energy access and without them it will be impossible to achieve SDG 7. Not to mention that ALER’s President and the two ALER staff members are women.
This year, the United Nations gave a special focus to rural and urban activists transforming women's lives. The needs and perspectives of women in the developing world, and of rural women in particular, have been marginalized for too long. This situation applies also to the energy sector, despite women being both energy providers (for e.g. via the production of clean cookstoves) and consumers. Women's roles as key change makers have yet to be fully recognized in changing the energy sector.
It is not only about meeting women's needs; it is also about partnering with women to find solutions and concrete commitments that lead to changes in order to ensure sustainable energy for all.
Women can drive faster progress and move us further towards this global goal. Here are three obstacles we need to clear out of the way.
1) We don’t have enough women in decision-making positions. We cannot build future energy systems without the views, patterns of use and needs of half of the population included in that process;
2) Finance. From decentralized rural business models to enterprises, many women are developing businesses in clean energy solutions, but face challenges in attracting investment. It’s a triple whammy of small businesses, a new market and a woman business-owner. The work of People-Centered Accelerator, a gathering of over 40 organizations, business and governments all committed to gender-inclusive efforts, is trying to address this;
3) Data. We need to know more about the female face of the 1 billion who don’t have electricity and the 3 billion who don’t have access to clean cooking. How many of them are women? Disaggregating the data on energy access is a critical priority.
It is exciting to see the rising tide of women recognizing and investing in the business opportunity of sustainable energy solutions. Through an entrepreneurial spirit, driven to support their own families and communities, businesses across the world are growing in this sector and changing lives.
Fortunately today there are several initiatives involving women in the energy sector such as Energia (International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy), wPOWER Hub (Partnership on Women’s Entrepreneurship in Renewables), and GW Net (Global Womens Network for the Energy Transition), among others, but there is room for more.
In honor of this day we want to pay tribute to these Associations, to the work they do, and in particular to all the women who work every day to guarantee access to energy for their families and for the population in general.
Isabel Cancela Abrei, Miquelina Menezes, Susana Pinto - ALER