“Climate change is a man made problem with a feminist solution”. So quipped B team leader and former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson. 

But to ensure women can be the solution, they must have a seat at the clean energy table and women’s rights and concerns must be a priority. 

To bring about a truly Just Transition, we need female leaders in energy transitions. 

One of the main drivers of climate change is the burning of fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas. Throughout the centuries, the fossil fuel sector has been dominated by men. 

Ireland is no exception. For instance, the majority of Bord na Mona employees are male. 

This trend of male domination looks set to continue in the global clean energy sectors. Women are poorly represented in these sectors, especially at higher levels and in STEM jobs. 

This is despite a recent report which found strengthening women’s roles in clean energy is integral to achieving the SDGs. 

Women’s absence from these industries has implications for everyone – not just women! Poor gender diversity has been linked to a lack of openness to new ideas. 

The traditional domination of the energy sector by older white men is also said to have held back its ability to adapt to climate change.

Clearly, unleashing the power of women within the clean energy sector is essential. 

This is a pivotal moment as the need to transition away from fossil fuels is now almost universally recognised. 

Many governments, including Ireland’s, are introducing new fossil fuel policies and just transition policies. 

But – as Audre Lorde put it – “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”.  This statement applies perfectly to the global energy transition. 

If we ‘transition’ underlying norms and practices from the fossil fuel industry to the clean energy industry, then it is unlikely that much will change. 

Transition policies need to be about more than just helping people (read: men) move into new roles or the provision of compensation. 

The UNFCCC guidelines for a just transition call for an inclusive transition that reduces inequality and empowers historically disadvantaged groups including women. 

This means the gender impact of transition policies must be considered. For instance, in the energy sector, women are mainly represented in indirect support roles including unpaid care work. Focusing only on the workers directly impacted by job losses can actually reinforce existing gender inequities. Instead, a broader focus on social equality and gender concerns is a must. 

Ensuring greater gender diversity and women’s leadership in clean energy is also critical. 

A recent report suggests some ways to address the barriers women face. This includes establishing gender quotas for the clean energy sector, building capacities of female workers, and ensuring inclusive work environments with childcare services.  

Quitting fossil fuels presents an opportunity to pause and critically reflect on how best to proceed. 

Instead of repeating mistakes of the past and allowing biased systems to continue, we should address historical imbalances and help those currently marginalised within our global energy system. 

Women need to make up our green future. Let’s not let this opportunity slip by! 

 

 

Photo: via Pxhere

 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to get our top news straight to your inbox.

The Time for Action is Now – Beijing +25

Georgetown virtually held Beijing +25: Commemorating a Watershed Moment for Women’s Rights on Sept. 10 with Former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton on the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women. What does the conference mean for politics in 2020?

Women in Horror Cinema: ‘Screen Queens’ and changing representations

Horror cinema has always been an extremely nuanced genre of film in terms of its representation of female characters. Conventional gender roles and stereotypes permeate the genre with clichéd female archetypes such as the helpless victim and the sexually promiscuous woman. However, things are starting to be challenged.

Women and the Military: Could pushing female representation do more harm than good?

How useful is representation in and of itself? If individual members of marginalised groups are in positions of power, will the necessary changes for their community be achieved, or do we need a collective movement of oppressed groups to attack systems of inequality from the outside? These questions have been particularly divisive in feminist discussions on women and the military.

Women and the Military: The unequal burden of war

The image of Western military powers as an emancipatory force for women has been promoted for over a century, yet ultimately could not be further from the truth. Historically, Britain and other European powers have attacked the rights and undermined the autonomy of women in colonised countries.

Oatly Facing Boycotts Following Unsustainable Investment Links to Deforestation and Trump

Oatly has made headlines recently for accepting an investment from Blackstone, one of the largest private equity firms in the world, which has links to deforestation in the Amazon and the Trump administration. The case of Oatly raises the question – is it possible to be 100% sustainable within our current economic framework?

“Women’s Rights are Human Rights” – a Muddy Business in 1995 at Beijing

The Beijing World Conference on Women, took place in September 1995, 25 years ago! Those born after 1990 are probably too young to remember the conference and its significance. But Beijing was a true landmark event. It resulted in more than 30,000 activists, representatives from 189 nations, unanimously adopting the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – a vision of equal rights, freedom, and opportunities for women that continues to shape gender equality and women’s movements worldwide.

Share This