Published on April 16th, 2017 | by The Beam0
Women’s Empowerment In The Sustainability Industry
April 16th, 2017 by The Beam
By Scott Douglas Jacobsen
The empowerment of women is a global goal enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDGs #5 (gender equality) and #10 (reduced inequalities). One major area requiring immediate implementation of long-term solutions is renewable technologies for sustainable development. Women are making strides in the renewable and sustainable technology sectors, as well as in the sectors of business, entrepreneurship and innovation, working to develop solutions to the one of the biggest crises facing the global population: climate change. The Beam asked two women leaders in the renewable and sustainable technology sectors about bringing women into the male-dominated sustainability industry and the industry’s relationship with women’s empowerment.
What is the most effective means of involving women in sustainability and renewable energies?
Antonella Battaglini: I actually think that we need women to move into other areas beyond sustainability and renewable energies and bring their expertise and perspectives into the highly male dominated energy sector. Sustainability, despite major progresses, still remains a minor factor in industry development and strategies.
Only a few companies are making sustainability a fundamental pillar of their short- and long-term strategies and operation. So what is the most effective means to increase the number of women in the energy sector in relevant and leading positions? I do not believe that a quota can do the job although it may help to change mentality over time. I think we need to train women to be active and strong board members, and to increase their resilience in tough environments which are often contradictory with women’s family lives.
Barbara Buchner: It is positive that the issue of gender equality is now being taken seriously by many international organizations that are focusing on sustainable development and improving access to clean energy. The Paris Agreement explicitly recognized that action to address climate change should respect, promote and consider gender equality, which is a positive step forward. Similarly, mainstreaming gender equality into climate action is now a top priority for many bilateral and multilateral aid organizations, including the World Bank.
This high-level, political focus is of course welcome and to be encouraged. The challenge now is to ensure these goals and objectives filter down to action on the ground, and that gender impacts are considered and addressed in a meaningful way (rather than just a ‘tick box’ exercise). Training will be key — as this calls for a new model of development. Similarly, it will be vital to involve women and women’s organizations in stakeholder groups and consultations, and on steering committees of projects, so that they can bring their strong local knowledge to bear and to ensure the potential impacts on women are acknowledged and addressed.