Earlier this month, GWNET held its fourth knowledge-transfer webinar for the participants of the GWNET 3/2020 Mentoring Programme, on the topic of The Role of Women in Energy Networks. We were delighted to welcome three powerful key speakers who are founders of Women in Energy Networks on three different continents.
- Nicole Uwineza Mukwindi: Founding Member and President of POWERHer, Rwanda’s first certified independent non-profit organization of professional women in the energy sector.
- Sandra Caballero: Founder and General Coordinator of the REDMEREE – Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Women’s Network in Mexico, the first and most dynamic network of its kind in Latin America.
- Sedef Budak: Founder and President of TWRE – Turkish Women in Renewables and Energy Network, the first gender equality and inclusion movement in the energy sector of Turkey.
As different as the structures and the working methods of the individual networks may be, it quickly turned out that they are all working towards one general goal: to close the gap between women and men working in the renewable energy sector and to make the sector more just and therefore advance the energy transition faster.
PowerHer’s mission is to increase the number of women in the Rwandan energy sector by establishing a network of women, creating opportunities for them, and supporting women to climb the career ladder in the sector. The NGO was founded in October 2020 and has attracted more than 100 founding members. This great interest in the network shows how important its creation was. During the webinar, Nicole pointed out the difficulties of working in times of a pandemic. PowerHer had to put some of its activities on hold (e.g. projects in schools). Nevertheless, they were able to expand their network, connect with other regional and international networks and provide training to their members.
TWRE, since its foundation in May 2018, aims to create a positive perception towards women in the renewable energy sector, to raise the interest of women in the sector, and to make sure that the sector gains more professional green-collar women. Sedef explained the importance of the switch to digitalization during the COVID-19 pandemic. TWRE now organises more online events and has become more active on online platforms like Instagram and Youtube. Furthermore, besides their mentorship programmes, training and networking opportunities, they now put focus on data generation.
REDMEREE has five years of working experience with over 1000 members and more than 40 partner institutions. For Sandra, the key concept is that women need to become change agents in the renewable energy sector. Their gender intervention takes place on 4 levels: Person, Organisation, Policies, and Society. In order to achieve long-term change, awareness of gender issues is needed across all of these levels. For example, soft skills training can be offered at the personal level and generated and updated data can be provided at the organisational and political level.
The informative presentations by the three inspiring women led to a dynamic discussion. Key insights from the presentation and subsequent Q&A session included:
- During the pandemic, the use of the virtual world has increased and the issue of professional moderation skills has become more important. Offering soft skill training for women is becoming more relevant.
- If we want to close the gap between women and men working in the energy sector, men have to be included. It must be made clear that men’s lives are not everyone’s reality. At REDMEREE, for example, men have to go through gender awareness training to become part of their network.
- Women in energy networks represent a pool of strong women with knowledge, education, and working experience in the sector. There are women experts on each topic and we have to make use of this pool.
Transformation does not happen overnight. We have to stay strong and support each other.