During the SOLTRAIN+ project, special attention is given to 'Women in Energy.' Aligned with national sustainable development goals, regional gender and diversity protocols, and strategies, the objective is to increase the participation of women in a predominantly male-dominated sector. A situational analysis, needs assessment, and strategy provide the background and structure for the implementation phase of the work package dedicated to gender and diversity in the years 2024-2026.
A desktop study on key indicators revealed that the participating countries of the SOLTRAIN+ project—Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe—all have regional and local policies, legislation, and reporting systems in place to protect, support, and empower women. However, these systems remain weak, particularly regarding sexual harassment and maternity leave, and wage inequality continues to be a challenge. Social norms create a conducive environment for a high level of acceptance of gender-based violence (GBV) and gender role definitions. Over 35% of households are led by females as the sole providers, yet the labor force participation of women and firms with a majority of female ownership remains low. A survey conducted with stakeholders in the renewable energy sector identified the opportunities and challenges women face when considering a career in the industry. A total of 103 stakeholders from the renewable energy sector in SOLTRAIN partner countries participated in the questionnaire, of which 82% were women.
The situation regarding women in technical positions varied among the different SOLTRAIN partner countries, depending also on the size of the organization. The most commonly mentioned barriers were a lack of awareness of opportunities, a lack of mentoring, insufficient training, and the need to change mindsets. The absence of gender targets was also seen as an impediment to increasing the representation of women in the sector. The preferred measures to support women in the renewable heating and cooling sector are equal opportunities, capacity building, and mentoring networking.
Thus, the SOLTRAIN+ gender and diversity work package is considered essential for enhancing dialogue and facilitating women's and young talents' access to the community of renewable heating and cooling technologies. The project is being implemented through a multi-level approach, involving the G&D core team, ten project gender managers, and strategic partnerships formed with gender multipliers to expand the network reach and take multiplication actions. The vision is to create a 'pay it forward' effect in the dialogue for gender equality.
At the side event of the SOLTRAIN+ conference, the aim is to spotlight the value chain of the renewable heating and cooling sector, presenting job opportunities, and outlining the structure of the SOLTRAIN+ project in terms of accessing opportunities in the sector for women at multiple levels, as well as actions to overcome the barriers that may hinder women in their progress. The event is intended to expand networks and serve as a platform to invite gender multipliers and women interested in participating in activities to step forward.
A brochure summarizing the goals and actions related to gender and diversity within the SOLTRAIN+ project will be unveiled at the event.
Gender and Diversity Side Event logistics
Date: 22nd November 2023, 16:30 – 18:00 (hybrid event)
Location: Safari Hotel and online
For more information, please contact Selma Festus at firstname.lastname@example.org.