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Gender equality forum draws big audience

More than 130 people from across the renewable energy community attended an online forum exploring how to ensure women’s needs are better served by the sector.

Wednesday’s event, Putting women in the spotlight: How to target female customers through distributed renewable energy business models and operations, was co-hosted by Camco and 2X Collaborative, and focussed specifically on the Africa context.

The forum aimed to raise awareness of – and identify solutions to - the current lack of funding globally to support the provision of “products and services that specifically or disproportionately benefit women” - which is one of four gender lens investing criteria outlined by the 2X Challenge (which led to the formation of 2X Collaborative).

Keynote speaker Prudence Muchinouta, CFO of Community Markets for Conservation, kicked off proceedings with an emphatic call to action on gender-focused climate finance, making the point that climate action would be unlikely to succeed without women’s involvement since they possess the skills and experiences relevant to addressing the challenge, in particular their knowledge of local ecosystems, agriculture and natural resource management.

This was followed by a high-level roundtable discussion between panellists Laura Lahti (Impact Manager, Camco), Caroline Frontigny (Co-Founder and CBDO, upOwa), Temitope George (Head of the Appliances for Productive Use component under REA’s Nigeria Electrification Project) and independent gender and social inclusion expert Inka Schomer, with 2X Collaborative CEO Jessica Espinoza as moderator. During the session, the panellists drew on their on-the-ground experiences and learnings to explore key issues, which ranged from what energy companies need to do to fully understand the needs of women as end users to the role of policy and blended finance.

The final part saw attendees split into four smaller groups for interactive discussions around the themes of marketing to women, changing perceptions and cultural norms, the role of policy and blended finance, and intentionality in gender-smart product design.

Speaking after the forum, Camco's Policy & Partnerships Manager Ieva Indriunaite, said: "Gender inequality is a complex challenge which requires multi-dimensional solutions. While efforts to address gender equity in the renewable space have been expanding, to date more focus has been placed on strengthening female representation at company and institutional levels, with the role of women as end-users often overlooked.

“Yet addressing women’s needs and ensuring they are benefitting from distributed renewable energy has never been more important, given the critical role women play in improving livelihoods and strengthening the climate resilience of communities across Africa.

“The enthusiasm, knowledge and insights that came out of the forum demonstrate that not only is there a will to do better, but a clearly definable path. It is now all of our responsibility to build on these learnings and drive the change that is needed.”

  • Camco and 2X Collaborative are teaming up again to deliver a similar gender quality forum on Wednesday, 9 March, which will be focused on Small Island Development States (SIDS). More details to follow.


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