Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all (SDG 7) is one of the 17 interlinked goals set out by the United Nations General Assembly. Today, about 840 million people live without access to electricity and more than 2.9 billion cook with polluting solid fuels, which have a disproportionate negative health impact on women and children.
Globally, countries are taking increased efforts to decarbonise the energy sector and the global energy transition is in full swing. However, the energy sector still tends to be male-dominated which holds back the energy transition (for more information see Women for Sustainable Energy – Strategies to Foster Women’s Talent for Transformational Change, GWNET, 2020).
GWNET works to advance the global energy transition by empowering women across the clean energy value chain including in decision-making processes. In 2020, we launched the third GWNET Global Mentoring Programme to accelerate the careers of women in junior/middle management positions in energy, support their pathway to leadership positions and foster a global network of mentorship, knowledge-sharing and empowerment.
The programme was made up of 26 mentor-mentee tandems of women working in various areas in the renewable energy sector, with mentees coming from 20+ countries across four continents.
The tandems engaged in a bilateral exchange between May 2020 and April 2021, which enabled the mentees to broaden their knowledge and networks, and the mentors were able to expand their own expertise through their mentees’ perspective.
The mentors of the GWNET 3/2020 Mentoring Programme
Key components of the programme included:
- Bilateral interaction for 12 months between mentees and mentors
- 4 knowledge-transfer webinars on the status of renewable energy and the role of women in energy, energy markets post-COVID-19, global energy governance in the time of COVID, and the role of women in energy networks
- 2 virtual mentor gatherings
- 1 graduation webinar
- Networking and peer-to-peer exchange
- Continuous support by the GWNET Secretariat – including the provision of tools and necessary support to define and make progress towards selected and agreed-upon goals
- An online storytelling series: meet the women in the energy transition
During the year, the programme participants gained knowledge and new insights which will be valuable for their professional careers.
But it was also a year full of challenges and hurdles, not least because of the impact of the pandemic. It was therefore enriching to hear some success stories based, among other things, on the bilateral exchange and mutual learning within the mentoring relationship.
“The mentoring programme has given me the opportunity to meet and connect with motivated energy sector professionals from all over the world and learn the latest sector developments from prominent experts through knowledge-transfer webinars. My mentor has showed me how to stay calm and spread positive energy, having at the same time a lot of responsibility and challenging tasks at work. That is the most important lesson that I want to apply in my career and life.”
– Elena Chvanova, Mentee
“Throughout this year of sharing with exceptional women around the world and especially with my mentor, I realized that we are capable of transforming our environment and achieving more active participation, defining clear and achievable goals, and never forgetting to trust ourselves. It was an amazing experience and now I have the necessary tools to be a good leader and contribute to the gender equality in the energy sector.”
– Idalia Matus, Mentee
“For me, the program was a great experience both professionally and personally, to share and expand my knowledge. It is admirable to appreciate the work that women in the energy sector do from different fields around the world. Being able to share and listen to women with great trajectory and experience in this sector is very motivating. As for the mentorship, it helped me broaden my vision in the area in which I work and understand more fully the processes involved. It was very gratifying to share knowledge with a woman with great experience, who provided me with research and networking tools that will be helpful to me to continue learning. I am very grateful for the opportunity.”
– Ana Eloisa, Mentee
“Encountering such a diverse group of phenomenal women working and making an impact in the sustainable energy sector has been a gift. It has served as a reminder that the pigeonholes are bogus, and as an inspiration. Wonderful to collaborate with and learn from those both older and younger, experienced and idealistic, quiet or bold. I have been reminded that women are not small men. We bring a unique gift, perspective and role in energy as well as the transition towards more sustainable energy systems. It is our responsibility to step out of the default, autopilot and rethink how energy best serves us, our communities and this precious planet. It is good to know that in this, “we” span continents, generations and cultures.”
– Mari Louise Van Der Walt, Mentor
It is these individual success stories that inspire and allow us to see progress. These are small steps that bring us closer to a big goal – to advance the role and participation of women in the energy transition.
Applications for the fourth cohort of the GWNET Global Mentoring Programme will be launched in September 2021.