International Women's Day hails link between women and sustainability
8 March 2022
By Camco's Managing Director, Geoff Sinclair
Happy International Women’s Day everyone!
With its origins dating back to 1908, International Women’s Day (IWD) has become a highlight of the UN’s global observance calendar, commemorating the cultural, political, scientific and socioeconomic achievements of women, as well as raising awareness of gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.
I was delighted when I learned that this this year’s IWD would be based around the theme of gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow and recognise the critical importance of gender equality in successfully addressing climate change and other sustainable development issues. Its aim is to celebrate all the ways women and girls are taking climate action and to help elevate their voices and support their work.
As a climate and impact fund manager working in emerging markets, we are acutely aware of the vital role women have to play in the development of a reliable, sustainable and affordable clean energy system, both as entrepreneurs and as end users. We also understand that in a sector where progress is often stifled by financial and technical barriers to entry, the challenges facing women to be heard and succeed are all the greater.
To enable real change, whereby women have the same rights and opportunities as men, requires deep-rooted change across many areas, from disrupting inequitable cultural norms that prohibit the participation of women to enabling easier access to finance. It also, vitally, requires a much better understanding of the products and services that women actually need, rather than what investors and developers think they need.
There is a lot of important work that is being done to address, in particular, the finance aspect surrounding gender equality. The 2X Challenge, for example, was set up to encourage DFIs and the private sector at large to work together to increase investments that provide women in developing markets with improved access to leadership opportunities, quality employment, finance, enterprise support and products and services that enhance economic participation and access. And last year, the Action Coalition for Feminist Action for Climate Justice was launched, bringing together governments, private sector companies, the UN system and civil society in order to make concrete commitments toward climate justice.
As a company, Camco takes gender (as well as ethnic, racial and cultural) equality and inclusivity very seriously both at an organisational level and an operational level. We believe that having a gender diverse team not only makes for a healthier and happier working environment, but that it also improves performance, and currently women make up 50% of our staff. (For more on Camco's approach to gender equality click here.)
Camco provides investees with the knowledge, tools and direction they need to ensure gender equality runs as a common thread throughout their business planning and operations. And wherever we can we try to make contributions to further gender equality across the renewable energy sector as a whole.
Some of our work to date includes:
A gender equality toolkit, which we created back in 2020, to help renewable energy developers integrate a gender equality perspective into the design, implementation, monitoring and assessment of their projects. The toolkit has been updated to reflect new nuances of gender considerations in international best practice and relaunched this week to coincide with IWD.
Free-to-view webinars on Gender considerations in the stakeholder engagement process, Gender mainstreaming in renewable energy project design and, most recently, - Putting women in the spotlight, which explores what can and needs to be done to prioritise women’s needs within the distributed renewable energy sector.
Industry comment pieces, including Gender mainstreaming is core to the future of renewable energy businesses, Insights on 2X’ing Gender Lens Investing, and Shining the light on women! – and this fascinating interview with upOwa co-founder and REPP investee Caroline Frontigny, who was named leading female entrepreneur in West and Central Africa by Business Financing.
We also work closely with our investees to help them establish gender action plans, and provide financial incentives to encourage them to adopt these plans and raise their ambitions on gender equality.
I am proud of the work the Camco team has achieved to support gender equality in the renewable energy space so far, and it is pleasing to note that as of the end of 2021, 45% of all REPP-supported projects were aligned with 2X’s criteria for gender lens investing. But as IWD serves to remind us today, the world is still a long way from where it needs to be if women are to lead and drive change in climate adaption, mitigation, and solutions, and at Camco we are committed to fully supporting that ambition however we can.