On November 22, 2023, the Gender Managers (GMs) from the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE), Namibia Energy Institute (NEI), Solar Industries Association Botswana (SIAB), and Institute for Sustainable Technologies (AEE INTEC) - Selma Festus, Fenni Shidhika, Karen Gibson, and Monica Spork-Dur, respectively - co-hosted the inaugural Gender & Diversity (G&D) hybrid event at the Safari Mercure Hotel in Windhoek, Namibia.
The workshop highlighted the gender and diversity work package within the SOLTRAIN+ initiative, focusing on value chains and opportunities in the renewable heating and cooling (RHC) sector. Kudakwashe Ndhlukula, the Executive Director of SACREEE, inaugurated the event. Karen Gibson provided an overview of the G&D work package, emphasizing SOLTRAIN+'s potential opportunities and advocating for increased strategic partnerships through the gender multiplier implementation structure.
Honourable Kornelia K. Shilunga, the Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy in Namibia, inspired attendees by reflecting on the significance of women in energy, the challenges faced in female participation in politics, and celebrated the recent achievement of an inclusive 50/50 gender balance in Namibia's political landscape. She emphasized that to bring about substantial and sustainable change in male-dominated sectors like energy, women should actively engage in politics, as it's a platform pivotal in influencing decision-making processes.
The Gender Managers - Fenni Shidhika, Tawha Peter, Asteria Markus, and entrepreneur Bernadette Simana - shared empowering stories of their journeys to success, aiming to encourage women to venture into the RHC sector while advancing their careers.
Bhakani Ntuli, the GM of the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), offered insights into the RHC value chain in South Africa, while Jenipher Chigerwe, GM from the National University of Science & Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe, facilitated the workshop with grace and humour.
Mentorship opportunities were emphasized by Irene Giner-Reichl from the Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition (GWNET). Kornelia Iipinge-Silishebo from SACREEE presented on training opportunities for small-to-medium enterprises within the SADC Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Support Facility.
In closing remarks, Wolfgang Gruber-Glatzl, SOLTRAIN+ Project Manager (AEE INTEC), encouraged collaboration among companies, non-governmental organizations, industry associations, financial institutions, international donors, academic and research institutes, and all stakeholders in the renewable energy sector. He urged them to unite and strive not only for increased female participation in the energy sector but also for their representation in key decision-making positions.