Those of us who work on issues of climate change and Energy we are aware that the Energy Transition It will require an immense effort to achieve the goals established by the countries and the commitments of the Paris Agreement. We also know that this effort will require transformations, not only of energy matrixes, labor force, changes in the economy, but also of important social transformations.
For countries to advance in their energy transitions and in the decarbonization of their economies, both men and women they must be able to actively participate in politics, legislation, planning, decision-making, and also be agents of change. That means, having a voice and a vote at the tables where decisions are made, being an equal part of the workforce (even in 2022 this continues to be a problem) and having the same benefits as users, because even today girls and women they are at a great disadvantage compared to men, especially in isolated areas.
The documents on energy transition, decarbonization plans, energy agendas and/or guidelines of the countriestwo of the region describe the main objectives and the way in which government institutions and entities conduct energy policy. These resources present an opportunity to promote gender equality in the energy sector. However, an analysis carried out by the IDB Energy Division shows that the vast majority of energy policy documents in Latin America and the Caribbean (as of December 2021) lack gender considerations and concrete proposals for actions to incorporate more women in large energy plans of the countries. In all the countries analyzed, the mention of gender plans and/or policies are practically non-existent. Only two countries have specific documents published where gender guidelines are developed for the energy sector.
The region is made up of more than 30 countries and less than half have developed and published documents on energy transition. Increasingly, countries will need to accelerate the pace of this transition to achieve the goals set out in the Paris Agreement and the sustainable development goals.
These documents will be necessary to commit all the actors in the countries and measure progress. It will be essential to build and reach an understanding in society about what the workforce of the future should look like, and how women and men can equally benefit from this transition. We have to start from the same point or at least have the same goal, reach a common agreement, and move forward looking forward without repeating the mistakes of the past.
Promoting gender equality in energy transition plans brings us one step closer to a sustainable tomorrow. The commitment of March 8, 2022 should be that by the next International Women’s Day in 2023 all countries in the region have gender guidelines for the energy sector.
If we simply think about training and upskilling the existing workforce, this effort will be in a predominantly male workforce, with gender pay gaps and discriminatory practices. Furthermore, in a sector that will include more and more technology and digitization and where there will be a shortage of professionals, women can fill the surplus of jobs as they are more vulnerable to losing their jobs as a result of automation, but this is impossible if they do not have the necessary knowledge and opportunities.
Governments, the public and private sectors and civil society must work together so that women have the role that corresponds to them in the energy transition and that gender equality is not compromised during the process, but that the process is an opportunity to promote a fairer society. We must ensure equal participation of women in the energy transition and professional promotion in the new areas that it brings.
Beyond all efforts, and that at the IDB we are convinced that this is an issue for everyone (men and women), we could well follow the suggestion of Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to the United States Congress, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring in a folding chair”, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair”.