According to a recent IRENA study, women represent only 32% of the renewable energy sector and 22% of the oil and gas industry. The same study reveals that, on average, only one-third of senior management positions are represented by women. These bleak trends and numbers are just some examples of the many disparities that are still prevalent within the energy sector. They are evidence of the significant barriers women still face within the energy field.
Gender (in)equality in energy cooperatives
What goes for the overall energy sector, is unfortunately also true for the community energy sector. Within these citizen-led initiatives, too, despite the progress made, a gender gap still exists concerning female participation, average ownership rate, visibility and representation in management positions. Moreover, energy communities often struggle to attract female members, especially vulnerable women. Moreover, addressing gender gaps within the energy sector will be crucial in tackling energy poverty, a phenomenon that disproportionately affects women.
In recent years, energy cooperatives have increased their efforts to close the gender gap within the energy sector. In line with this, REScoop.eu has signed the Charter of Commitment on Equality between Women and Men in Cooperatives by Cooperatives Europe:
“Cooperatives provide decent employment and help reduce inequalities which affect the most vulnerable people, including women. The equality between women and men and for all is at the core of the cooperative identity and as well as of the European Union.”
The power of gender
Gender-just energy communities increase social acceptance and trust, they tend to be more effective and have a broader scope of activities. Involving people of all genders in the energy transition means that more expertise and capacity becomes available, something that is needed for the transformation of our energy system. In fact, a gender perspective on the energy transition offers the opportunity to develop a socially-just energy sector that is free from any form of oppression related to race, age, class, ethnicity, nationality, abilities and global North/South divide. Gender-just energy cooperatives help reduce emissions while addressing inequality through job creation and improved access to energy.
Gender Power working group
Representing a growing network of over 1.900 energy cooperatives, REScoop.eu and its members really share the opportunity to make a difference. In order to mainstream gender-just energy communities, the REScoop.eu team has launched a Gender power working group. The working group will map the needs and challenges that energy cooperatives face. It will provide the space for discussion and for the exchange of good practices. It will be a platform to share tools and instruments to help energy communities diversify their boards and membership base, so as to be able to reflect the principle of gender justice in their overall operation.
Are you a member of REScoop.eu and interested in the topic? Do you want to get inspired and connected to same-minded actors in the field? Then this working group is for you!
For more information, please get in touch with Antonia Proka: email@example.com
One of the projects of REScoop.eu that has the principle of gender-justice incorporated in its design and operation is the European Citizen Energy Academy (EUCENA). Along with a focus on supporting the diversity of business models of citizen energy initiatives in the Balkans and central Europe, EUCENA specifically aims at the engagement of more women in the field.
EUCENA supports the citizen energy movement throughout Europe by fostering knowledge creation and transfer between Southeast and Central Europe. Specifically, it provides knowledge and tools on community building, development, and cooperation between communities. EUCENA is supported by the European Climate Initiative (EUKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).