Even though women make up nearly half of the world’s population, gender equality remains a great challenge. Women are still frequently ignored, undervalued or unpaid, limiting their ability to be dynamic participants in economy and society. In the energy industry, women are significantly under-represented, making up less than a quarter of the overall energy workforce, and a third of the renewable energy sector.
Renewables and energy efficiency are key to decarbonising all end uses, massively cutting carbon emissions and helping to mitigate climate change. The energy transition can boost economic development and create jobs. The renewable energy labour market is estimated to have already grown to around 12 million jobs in 2020 and is expected to nearly quadruple by 2050.
The solar photovoltaic (PV) sector is the largest employer among renewables, accounting for some 4 million jobs. The expanding solar PV industry offers long-term and challenging career opportunities in both on-grid and off-grid contexts. The sector will remain the largest driver of job growth in the renewable energy sector, accounting for roughly 15.5 million jobs by 2050 offering real potential for women and men.
Without women‘s full engagement, renewable energy growth will fall short of its potential. If the solar business does not include a gender lens to incorporate more women, the industry will be missing out on a large talent pool with skills and important perspectives for this expanding industry. Further, the sector will miss the opportunity of creating a better working environment for all employees, as it is proven that having more women in the workplace improves the organisational culture, resulting in better employee engagement and retention.
The gender dimension of renewable energy is a crucial area of focus in IRENA’s analytical work, including on renewable energy jobs. The objective is to improve the evidence base to inform decision making by policymakers, industry and development practitioners. The growing body of work has led to the development of a series of reports: A Gender Perspective.
The Women in Solar PV event will mark the launch of the latest IRENA brief within the series: Solar PV: A Gender Perspective, on the role of women in the solar PV sector.