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International Women’s Day: #InvestInWomen through renewable energy

Updated: May 28

The theme designated by the United Nations (UN) Women for International Women's Day this year, on March 8th 2024, is “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress”.

Aligned with this call to action, Croydon Community Energy has been examining the pivotal role of renewable energy within the context of #IWD2024 and their overarching #InvestInWomen theme.

Investing in women: A human rights issue

The UN's Sustainable Development Agenda has set the goal to achieve gender equality by 2030 as its fifth objective. Despite women and girls comprising over half the global population, they continue to encounter pervasive inequalities across nations. Advancing women's rights is not just a matter of equity but a benefit to all genders. By fostering inclusivity, we dismantle gender discrimination and transcend traditional gender roles.

“Humanitarian programmes tend to be heteronormative and can reinforce the patriarchal structure of society if they do not take into account sexual and gender diversity,” says Matcha Phorn-In who works in Sangsan Anakot Yaowachon.

Ending Energy Poverty

Due to gender inequalities, women in developing countries are suffering from lack of access to resources like water and food. Since women in those countries are normally seen as caregivers, domestic workers, along with these responsibilities, women suffer from lack of natural resources more than men. For instance, if there is a drought, women need to travel for a longer distance to collect water, whilst also supporting their children. Worse still, data from World Health Organization (WHO) shows that women die every two minutes from complications in pregnancy and childbirth - often a large part of the causes are lack of electricity, water, lighting and healthcare access. 

“Prolonged drought can precipitate early marriage, as families contend with scarcity. Floods can force last-resort prostitution as women struggle to make ends meet.”according to Katharine Wilkinson, an environmentalist and author said on stage at TEDWomen in 2018.

Since 2020, a convergence of factors - COVID-19, geopolitical tensions, climate crises, and economic instability - has plunged an additional 75 million individuals into severe poverty. Without intervention, projections suggest that by 2030, over 342 million women and girls could reside below the poverty line, with women disproportionately affected by energy poverty.

(Image Credit: European Bank)

Implementing gender-responsive on renewable energy

Recent estimates suggest that 75% of countries will reduce public expenditures by 2025 due to the conflicts and rising fuel and food prices. Austerity measures involve reducing social safety nets for women, children, the elderly, and other vulnerable groups, resulting in a limited support system for only a portion of those in poverty. 

“Sustainable energy has become central to conceptions of a gender-responsive just transition to green, inclusive and sustainable economies.” says UN Women

Shifting to a green economy and care society

In developed countries, concerns over access to natural resources are less pressing, yet a cost-of-living crisis looms large across Europe, with household energy bills skyrocketing. Governments are finally starting to realise renewable energy can bring something even greater than economic benefits - the welfare of its people. As we shift to a fairer, more sustainable economy, women could play an indispensable role in the function of uniting communities. They can help unite communities for society green developments like community energy, and call out women who share the same vision in a green economy to implement green projects. 

(Image Credit: Janikin Energy)

However, the persistent gender pay gap, with women earning 23% less than men on average, poses a significant hurdle. Single women, particularly those who are sole breadwinners or single parents, bear the brunt of this disparity. Therefore, advocating a care society is essential. It emphasises the crucial role of both caring for people and the planet and aims to deal with the unequal burden toward women and girls. 

Empowering feminist change-makers in renewable energy sectors

Despite strides in gender equality, traditional and renewable energy sectors remain male-dominated, with women still earning less for comparable roles. Even though women are at a disadvantage in most industries, women in the energy industry are even more at risk. This is because the energy crisis has brought more negative impacts to women, and yet, even if they can be seen as the first interested party, they are still struggling to be invited to the room of energy policy making and decision making. 

To uplift feminist change-makers in renewable energy, initiatives such as women-centric networking events, bolstered diversity and inclusion policies, mentorship and sponsorship programs, and fostering family-friendly workplaces are essential steps forward.

At Croydon Community Energy, we are committed to diversity and inclusion. Our senior leadership team is majority female and non-binary people, and under 35 years old. This International Women’s Day, we thank women everywhere for their contributions, especially in the renewable energy sector, and welcome a brighter, more equitable future!

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