- Global growth in renewables has created 12.7 million jobs
- Bangladesh’s plan to cut carbon emissions lacks a gender focus
- The solar energy sector still employs few women
DHAKA, Nov 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – When Shefali Khatun separated from her husband, her biggest worry was how she would support her son and cover all expenses in their home in central Bangladesh – without a job.
Then she heard about a program run by the Bangladeshi green energy initiative that teaches women to build and repair solar-power systems. He signed up, despite having no engineering background or experience in the renewable energy sector.
Five years later, Khatun now works making solar equipment and earns about 10,000 taka ($95) a month, enough to meet his family’s needs and send his son to school.
“This job changed my destiny and helped me become self-reliant,” he said from his home in Mymensingh. “I discovered that women, too, can be self-reliant and support their families.”
Bangladesh’s nascent clean energy industry, which the country says is critical for increasing access to renewable power and curbing already low greenhouse gas emissions, is creating thousands of new jobs. jobs and, with it, opportunities for more women to join the workforce, say industry experts. .
More and more Bangladeshi women are achieving opportunities.
A report finalized by the European Union last week said the share of women students enrolled in a masters program in renewable energy at the University of Dhaka’s Institute of Energy, in the capital city, has increased from 17% to 27% between 2019 and 2021.
But some climate campaigners and gender experts say Bangladesh’s clean energy transition is still leaving women behind, with the government and companies not doing enough to empower women. which will benefit from the push to cut carbon emissions, even if they are the most affected by the effects of climate change.
The Bright Green Energy Foundation, the non-governmental organization that trains Khatun, has helped more than 5,000 women workers acquire skills in manufacturing and repairing equipment for solar home systems over the past decade. , said chairman Dipal Barua.
If Bangladesh wants to reach its goal of getting 40% of its electricity from renewables by 2041, it needs more women to build the workforce that installs and maintains the systems that supply most of clean energy, he added.
“The expansion of solar power in rural areas is unthinkable without the participation of women,” he said.
LITTLE GIRLS EVERYWHERE
Efforts to cut carbon emissions have created about 12.7 million jobs in renewables worldwide and that number will nearly quadruple by 2050, according to a report published this year by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) .
In the solar photovoltaic (PV) sector, the largest employer in the field of renewables, the report says globally women make up 40% of full-time roles involved in development, construction and installation of solar energy systems.
But most of those are in administrative jobs – when it comes to positions in the PV sector related to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), less than a third are filled by women.
Bangladesh does not collect gender-disaggregated data on the composition of the renewable energy sector, but those who work in the industry say they see the same pattern in their companies.
When the Chinese renewable energy company Sungrow built a solar power plant last year in Manikganj, near Dhaka, about 200 workers involved in construction – one-tenth of the workforce – were women, said Imran Chowdhury, head of development project in Bangladesh.
Now that the plant is operational, the share of women in the staff has halved, Chowdhury said, with most of them working in project development, the legal department, administration and accounting.
Field-level jobs, such as those involving operations and maintenance, offer more hands-on experience and higher opportunities for promotion, but are less available and require skills that most workers lack. female applicant, he said.
That’s an issue Arif Raihan Maahi is trying to tackle as chief impact officer for consulting firm Devtale Partners, which trains women engineers who want to enter the green energy sector and encourages them to take on the technical and leadership roles.
For many women, family responsibilities and limited formal education often mean they don’t have the experience or time for roles, Maahi said.
“And when their careers stall, women eventually lose their motivation and energy,” she said.
Solar power is just one part of the green energy transition in Bangladesh where women struggle with limited job opportunities.
Jatri Rani Barman was looking for a job that would provide her with a steady income and fit in with her family life.
He knows that driving an “easy bike”, an electric taxi with three wheels, offers a solution – it is a flexible, well-paid job that does not require the physical strength required to pull a manually operated rickshaw all day.
But at first, Barman, 32, faced resistance from friends and family, who told her it was not a job for a woman.
She decided to do it, and is now the only female fast bike driver in her northwestern town of Sunamganj.
“At first, most people discouraged me from working as a driver,” he said. “Now that they know me, they support my work.”
For Sharmind Neelormi, a climate and gender expert at Jahangirnagar University, the problem starts at the top, that the government has not yet understood the importance of involving more women in the push to prevent global warming.
Climate experts have long said that the effects of climate change disproportionately affect women, who due to their social and economic status suffer more losses during the extreme weather events and find it difficult to avoid and adapt to the damage caused.
In Bangladesh, nearly 60% of women work in agriculture, making their livelihoods highly vulnerable to floods, droughts and cyclones, according to a report published in August by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and UN Women.
Bangladesh’s latest climate action plan recognizes that addressing women’s needs is key to the success of adaptation measures such as subsidizing crop insurance or building barriers to protect farms from flooding, said Neelormi, a lead author of the IUCN report.
But, she added, the government is not doing enough to see how measures to reduce global warming emissions – especially the expansion of clean power – can provide livelihoods for women.
Energy is often seen as a technical issue, but social and gender aspects must also be considered, Neelormi said.
“Unless you specifically design renewable energy initiatives that keep women’s needs in mind, they won’t make enough of an impact,” she said.
Farah Anzum, an independent researcher on climate and gender, said that the first step for clean energy companies and carbon cutting projects is not only to recruit more women, but also to ensure that they have equal pay, flexible working hours and mechanisms to address harassment or unfairness. treatment.
“If we provide a safe, enabling space for women, they can get the jobs and opportunities that clean energy makes possible,” she said.
($1 = 105,2000 taka)
Originally published at: https://www.context.news/climate-risks/bangladesh-clean-energy-shift-gives-women-little-chance-to-shine
Reporting by Md. Tahmid Zami and Mosabber Hossain; Editing by Jumana Farouky and Megan Rowling. The Thomson Reuters Foundation is the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters. Visit the https://www.context.news/
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