Uncovering employment opportunities for women in renewable energy projects
Solar photovoltaic energy has become a clean alternative to fossil fuel energy by supplying power to the electricity grid. Given the reliability and sustainability of this source of energy, solar power projects are proliferating in the region and providing investment and employment opportunities. However, men and women do not benefit equally from these opportunities. Occupational segregation translates into scarcity of women in this sector, as professionals are typically from the Science, Technology, and Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Women only represent 11 percent of STEM graduates. For most people, renewable energy projects evoke images of isolated locations, long hours, heavy lifting in the hot sun and complicated engineering instruments. Gender impact in these projects is conventionally not considered.
The IIC tackled this gender gap by exploring ways to improve the gender impact of solar power projects. Through the Canadian Climate Fund, the IIC provided financing to risky solar power projects and has uncovered gender opportunities that will help their clients to promote gender equity. Projects such as Casablanca & Giacote in Uruguay and Divisa Solar in Panama are just two examples that showcase how the conversation around gender inclusion in this field is changing and benefiting the companies and local women professionals.
• In February 2015, C2F approved a six million dollar loan to Divisa Solar PV plant in Panama, a project that will be developed by Grupo Ecos and that is expected to reduce GHG emissions by more than 10,000t CO2 per year. IDB Group’s loan to Casablanca y Giacote was approved in July 2015 and will contribute to the construction of a PV plant that will decrease GHG emissions by 74,000t CO2 per year in Uruguay.
• Both of these projects have secured a diverse, qualified and locally sourced talent pipeline by turning commitments to women’s empowerment into actions. They have created smart alliances with universities and training institutes that source diverse human capital tailored to their business needs.
• Grupo Ecos, developer of the Divisa Solar project in Panama, was the first C2F client to develop an internship program specifically for female students on the STEM and finance tracks.