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Renewable Sector: Improving Welfare and Strengthening Gender Equality

The world is evolving constantly. Lately, we have seen drastic changes, with the virus outbreak, multiple worldwide shutdowns, and whatnot. But, nobody stopped working, nobody has stopped living. We are all still breathing, hoping to become better and are trying to redefine the universe we are living in. The renewable energy sector has been and is the most important aspect in purifying and improving the sphere we live in – the Earth.

Renewable energy is an important source of power generation, because we can use these resources again and again to reproduce useful energy. Common renewable power technologies like solar, wind, biogas etc. account for 15–20% of the total world’s energy.

The Transformation

The current, renewables- driven energy transformation, is bringing far reaching systemic changes in the society. This offers important opportunities for greater inclusion and equality.

Accelerating the deployment of renewables can alleviate poverty, provide jobs, and strengthen gender equality. However, to fully realize this potential, the renewable industry has to tap a wider pool of talent – notably women, who have been largely underrepresented.

Typical Barriers Faced by Women

The study further identifies barriers preventing women from entering jobs in the renewable energy sector, including cultural and social norms, unequal asset ownership, lack of skills and lack of gender-specific training. Surprisingly, only 40% of men are aware of these barriers, compared to 75% of women. Also, through a survey by the International Energy Agency (IEA), of rooftop solar companies in India and qualitative interviews with women in the industry demonstrated that women make up only 11% of the workforce at the moment, significantly less than the global average of 32%.

The renewable energy industry needs to engage and retain more women – and promote them to fill its growing needs for skills. Their leadership and contributions will be crucial, and come in handy to ensure that the energy systems of the future address the needs of modern societies.

Empowering with Technology

For advancing women’s careers, improvement in access to employment and financial resources and investment in women’s human and social capital through education is imperative. However, the economic advancement is only a part of the solution.

Empowering women requires a wider system transformation to tackle gender stereotypes and cultural biases that obstruct women’s entrance into advanced roles, job retention and career advancement in the renewable energy workforce.

A survey conducted by IRENA showed that women make up a larger percentage of the workforce in renewable energy than in conventional resources. In fact, the survey itself saw that the participants for the survey were 69% women. They are, however, under-represented.

The results from a summarized survey report taken from 1500 participants’ from144 countries indicate that women represent 32% of full time employees in the renewable energy sector, compared to 22% in the conventional oil and gas business and 48% of women workers in the global labor force. The results also show that the share of jobs held by women is higher for general administrative jobs (43%), but lower for jobs that require science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) training (31%).

Creating a Better Nation

Renewable energy sector in India has been able to create economic development and jobs in the manufacturing sector, especially for women. This sector has created 11% more jobs for women than the fossil fuel sector. Biomass energy facilities have an employment coefficient of 9.28 FTE jobs per year per megawatt during the operations and maintenance phase, and another 34.5 people per ton of biomass are employed in sourcing this feedstock. Biomass also provides additional income to farmers for their crop residues.

The Government of India is working towards developing a ‘green city’ in every state of the country, powered by renewable energy. The energy transition would scale up more rapidly if the industries could draw in all available talent – namely by actively working towards including women and minorities in the workforce.

The impact of this renewable sector has seen a significant growth potential, with numerous advantages for the renewable energy sector and women’s employment. Modern India is seeing a gradual boom in the renewable energy sector along with increased women employment and better job opportunities, which is overall, an excellent result.

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