Renewable energy sector: breaking barriers, leading change News

11 February, 2023

Access to affordable, clean and sustainable energy is central to improving the lives of the most disadvantaged groups and achieving long-term economic development. Many countries around the world, such as Cuba, Jordan and Palestine, where Cowater International is currently implementing renewable energy interventions, are facing multiple challenges in the energy sector, including high costs, increasing demand and high reliance on imports. To address these challenges and meet growing energy demands, continued investments in electricity generation and diversifying energy imports are essential and present an opportunity to support the transition toward cleaner energy for all. This includes support to increase installations and usage of solar photovoltaics (PV), promoting energy efficiency (EE) to contribute to reducing the carbon footprint, reducing energy costs for consumers, and creating green job opportunities for all, especially women.

Cowater International, with funding from the Government of Canada, is implementing interventions to strengthen the integration of women and female youth across the renewable energy sector through the Enhancing Women’s Leadership and Participation of Women in Cuba’s Renewable Energy Sector (FORMER) Project in Cuba, the Generating Revenue Opportunities for Women and Youth in the West Bank (GROW) Project in Palestine, and the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development in Jordan (SEED) Project in Jordan.

In Jordan, for example, we work to promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth for poor and disadvantaged groups in the Jordan Valley and Ajloun region by facilitating the uptake of low carbon renewable energy technologies. SEED Jordan project has supported higher incomes and improved livelihoods for women and men through the introduction of renewable energy and energy efficient (RE&EE) solutions at the household and institutional levels, and has promoted economic opportunities for women, youth, and Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Jordan’s RE&EE sector. Vocational training courses addressing RE/EE curricula were accompanied by an innovation award program, which provided entrepreneurial training and seed funding for innovative business ideas in the RE/EE field. To date the project has linked a total of 326 females with employers. One such example is Ruba Gharagheer from Deir Alla. Ruba completed a PV installation technical course offered by SEED and, shortly after, was offered a job by one of SEED’s assigned contractors. Consequently, she was able to take part in installing 385 PV systems at households in Deir Alla. According to Ruba, her experience with SEED benefited her on many levels. She was able to gain self-confidence and increase her social skills, and is proud to be a female working in a traditionally male dominated sector.

In Cuba, our FORMER Project seeks to support the development of a more inclusive energy sector, mainly in the area of renewable energy. The focus of FORMER is to empower women to enter the sector and grow personally and professionally. The initiative includes the training of women leaders in their communities so that, in addition to using the installations effectively, they can be generators of RE knowledge and activities that increase the productivity of women, as well as improve their living conditions.

Renewable energy training, Cuba

GROW Project in Palestine strengthens the integration of women and female youth in the renewable energy sector. A key project activity is enabling young female engineers to assume technical positions at RE enterprises through the development of employability skills and applied technical trainings, supporting women producers to become adopters of RE solutions, and empowering young male and female youth to become clean energy entrepreneurs and innovators. Over the past 4 years, 119 female youth engineers have completed technical trainings in renewable energy that respond to market needs, followed by a placement in RE companies. A cohort of 29 of these young female engineers were selected to pursue an energy auditor career path. The women completed an international energy audit training program and passed the relevant exams to become the first Palestinian cadre of energy auditors. By supporting female engineers in acquiring this professional credential, GROW has helped break down barriers and supported women entering a non-traditional field. 78 of the 119 women were able to find jobs – a major step toward a more gender-equitable renewable energy sector in Palestine.

Nour Aboushi, a female youth engineer stated: “The technical training and the job placement improved my self-confidence. Through my job placement I was able to secure a full-time position at the company where I was placed. My experience with GROW improved my life by enabling me to gain more technical and life skills”.

Continued investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency are at the very core of building sustainable and resilient communities. Creating the right spaces to enable women to enter and thrive in this sector will create jobs, new economic opportunities and accelerate the energy transition. At Cowater International, we will continue to lead the way in building more prosperous and inclusive communities through greener and cleaner energy.

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