With less than ten years until 2030, there is no time to lose. We are at a historical turning point with the potential to become a transformative moment for our society. The time to confront the climate crisis is now! To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we must intensify our efforts and work together to build our economies and societies back better and greener after the COVID-19 pandemic. Although women and youth have a critical role to play, they continue to face numerous similar but distinct challenges. Inequalities and discrimination faced by women and youth still prevent too many of them from realizing their full potential as agents of change. This hinders progress at the right speed and scale.
The energy sector is still missing out on benefitting from the entire talent pool. While there is growing recognition of the importance and benefits of women’s equal and meaningful participation in the energy workforce, a wide gender gap remains. In addition, women are at a much greater risk of energy poverty than men.
Women and Youth
Despite the barriers that women and youth face, they continue to provide creative sustainable energy solutions and strive for a more sustainable future. In particular, young women and men are at the forefront of creating innovative approaches and demanding tangible actions from policy makers and world leaders. However, they face structural education barriers related to a mismatch between what the education system offers and what the market needs. The market also favors experience over creativity and diversity, which puts youth at a disadvantage. Due to the multiple barriers that young women and girls can face due to their age and gender, they are often exposed to double discrimination in the energy sector.
The impact of the pandemic widens the gender gap even further, increase the digital divide and severely disrupt the education of and opportunities for young people.
Our Call to Action
On 12 and 13 January 2021, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in collaboration with the Vienna Energy Forum (VEF) partners, the Global Women Network for the Energy Transition (GWNET) and the SDG7 Youth Constituency (SDG7 YC), convened an expert dialogue. The panels featured specialists from governments, development cooperation agencies, donors, academia, the private sector and civil society. Experts and representatives discussed how to break the barriers and unlock the opportunities for women and youth. Discussants recommended to build adequate skills and develop a conducive environment that supports progress and avenues to fully utilize the potential of women and youth to contribute to the clean energy transition.
Recognizing that the full and active engagement and leadership of women and youth is central to the achievement of the clean energy transition and the advancement of sustainable development, the partners call on organizations, governments, private sector, academia and civil society to take urgent action. The aim is to ensure that the transition is not only fair and equally accessible to all women and men, girls and boys but that it is also provides equal opportunity for women and youth to take the lead and to become agents of change.
More specifically, the partners call for actions to: