Studies indicate that women want to participate in the energy sector, and especially within the energy efficiency sector, both of which currently have poor representation of women, Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) gender mainstreaming and transformation national coordinator Winnie Mamatsharaga said on March 8.
Speaking in a webinar, hosted by the DMRE, on business opportunities for women in the energy efficiency sector, she said women were unable to compete on an equal footing with men in the energy sector as a result of several factors.
These include women not having information on opportunities that are available in the energy sectors. “Even if they know about those opportunities, they do not have a way or know-how of how to develop business plans that are bankable. That, at the end of the day, will lead them [to not have] access to find opportunities.”
In addition, Mamatsharaga said women were also disadvantaged in terms of building strategic partnerships. Because energy was a big business, she said, strategic partnerships were essential to get new businesses operational.
Further, she said women were also on the back foot as a result of poor market access or women not having the capacity to educate stakeholders about their services and technologies.
However, she proposed several measures that could address these issues, including the creation of supportive policies for the advancement of gender equality, and targeted funding specifically for the energy sector that is accommodative of women.
“[Women] need access to networking sessions where they can network and learn from each other and benchmark from each other,” said Mamatsharaga.
To establish themselves further in the energy sector, she said women also needed access to business development programmes and targeted workshops.
Nonetheless, Mamatsharaga said women interested in building a career in the energy sector required industry policies and strategies that would create an enabling environment, so that both men and women were able to participate and benefit equally in the energy sector.