Women and Energy

Currently, there is an ongoing discussion regarding sustainable and renewable energy.

Many people are beginning to understand that there are many sustainable methods of using energy while also protecting the environment.

There are many popular misconceptions about renewable energy and what it means for our future.

Any energy source that may be used more than once infinitely is generally referred to as renewable energy.

Among these are hydropower, wind energy, solar energy, Biogas and Biomass Energy.

Hydropower is the most often used renewable energy source in Africa.

Uganda’s current total installed hydropower capacity is approximately 1034.4MW and the country’s total installed capacity from all sources is 1293MW (2020) for both grid and off grid.

Compared to fossil fuels, renewable energy actually provides more jobs for women.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which conducted the 2020 Annual Review, revealed that women made up 32% of the global workforce for renewables, more than the 21% for the fossil fuels industry.

The percentage of women working in administrative positions in the renewable energy industry and the energy sector as a whole is still significantly lower than that of women working in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics areas.

Because women suffer more when access to energy is limited, women need to be included more in the renewable energy industry specifically here in Uganda.

According to studies, compared to using clean energy cooking facilities, burning conventional biofuels doubles the risk of developing lung disease and lung cancer and raises the risk of pneumonia by 80%.

With focus on energy for cooking it is mostly women and young girls here in Uganda or even Africa, who do most of the cooking.

This implies that if we are to meet women’s energy demands, women and their priorities must be given more prominence.

One way to encourage female employment in the sustainable energy sector is through the creation of gender-sensitive energy systems and establishing Small and Medium Energy Enterprises in disadvantaged communities.

Since women are typically the primary caregivers, energy-efficient cooking appliances and home lighting solutions are among the projects being adopted in Uganda to increase women’s access to clean energy.

In order to completely incorporate women in technical, scientific, and business transformation, the gender gap must be closed for us to move towards energy security and climate neutrality.

One may even argue that women’s involvement is essential to the transition from conventional to clean, reliable energy.

The reality is that women prefer to lead with longer-term goals in mind, concentrating less on gaining power and more on finding solutions.

As a fellow woman, I disagree with the notion that women are more vulnerable than men in the energy sector.

Instead, I think it is more of a structural disadvantage that should be gradually eliminated as society adopts a more diverse mindset.

According to the International Energy Agency, women can only hold 22% of positions in energy production and distribution, which is typical of many traditional industries.

They represent 48% of the worldwide workforce, while senior managers represent an even smaller portion at 14%.

Worldwide, the energy sector is regarded as one of the least gender diverse parts of the economy which means we should encourage and support young women that wish to participate in the energy sector as we work to adopt a new approach within the sector to draw on all talents to deliver a secure, affordable and sustainable energy future.

Sarah Nyangoma is a board member of Council for Women in Energy and Environment Leadership (CWEEL) Uganda.

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