By Antonia Proka and Heleen Schockaert
This article was written for and published in our annual report 2023

2023 has been a year of accelerated social commitments, impact, and recognition for our federation. The movement has now clearly positioned itself as strongly committed to being a vehicle for a just and inclusive energy transition.

In November 2023, was acknowledged for its work on diversity and gender equality by Solar Power Europe. The Solar Diversity Champion Awards recognize and celebrate organizations that have demonstrated commitment and success in creating diverse, inclusive work environments. The award acknowledged's holistic approach and commitment to gender equality and social justice as a testament to its dedication to advancing inclusivity and fairness within the energy cooperative landscape. The Solar Works Fair panel applauded’s gender equality and justice ethos across its activities, highlighting its Gender Power Working Group and its support for the ‘Charter of Commitment on Equality between Women and Men in Cooperatives.’

In signing the working group’s Ambition Statement, the board of declared its awareness that the transition to a sustainable and just energy system requires holistic changes. This means dismantling existing unjust societal or organizational structures, ending discrimination and subordination attitudes, and creating alternative cultures, structures, and practices that reflect the principles of democracy, cooperation, and justice for all.

Earlier in 2023, the team launched a collective process to develop a Gender Equality Plan for the organization. This plan covered topics related to work-life balance, decision-making, recruitment, and our training processes. The preparation and finalization of the plan have been time-consuming, but the results prove that it was worth it. For instance, by using more inclusive language in our recruitment process, we noticed that, for the first time, more women than men applied to our vacancy. We would like to share our Gender Equality Plan with you, in the hope of inspiring you to take similar action. And as always, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions and comments.

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Beyond gender justice, energy poverty and socio-economic inclusivity have been high on the federation’s agenda, with many new inspiring initiatives developing on the ground and new acknowledgements at both EU and national level. Some key achievements in 2023 include the publication of a Report on Energy Communities and Energy Poverty with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, as well as the recognition of the role of energy communities in the European Commission’s Energy Poverty Recommendation and Staff Working Document. Both include many inspiring practices and concrete energy poverty alleviation strategies from our members. To further amplify this work and impact we take an active role in the Right to Energy Coalition and aim to further investigate the scalability of such initiatives in projects such as CEES and through regular exchanges with our members.

In fact, from its inception, the Gender Power working group has applied an intersectional approach in its efforts to bring about gender justice and social inclusion in energy cooperatives. In order to emphasise the importance of broadening and diversifying our community energy movement, we have decided to amend the name of our working group to “Gender Power & Inclusion”. Anyway, it has only been thanks to the inspiring actions of some of our working group members that we managed to prepare the Inclusivity guide (SCCALE 203050).

We don’t want to pretend to be experts on gender and inclusion.

We want to learn together and improve our actions in this area.

That’s why we invite you to share with us any actions you are taking,

whether they are successful or not.

Is there something you have achieved by changing some of your processes?

Have you tried something that did not work? Please share this with us!

Failure is only failure if we fail to learn from it.