Gender Equality as the Plank of Sustainable Development


02:11 AM

1 min read
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Why in News?

  • Conversations surrounding gender equality and women's empowerment have gained considerable momentum.
  • However, there is a connection between gender equality and sustainable energy development which is often overlooked.
  • Therefore, the issue of intricate relationship between these two domains, emphasising their fundamental role in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) needs to be explored and discussed.

Understanding the Integral Role of Gender Equality in Sustainable Energy

  • Foundational Connection to SDGs
    • Gender equality is intricately woven into the fabric of the SDGs, especially SDG5 (gender equality), SDG7 (clean, affordable energy), and SDG12 (climate action).
    • Achieving gender equality is recognised as a cross-cutting enabler, influencing the success of various SDGs.
  • Influence on Clean Energy Access
    • Studies consistently highlight that gender equality and women's empowerment are fundamental to achieving sustainable energy for all.
    • Recognising women as active participants in the energy sector is essential for designing effective policies and strategies to ensure inclusive and equitable clean energy access.
  • Strategic Linkages to Climate Action
    • Gender equality is an integral aspect of climate action, as evidenced by its inclusion in SDG12.
    • Empowering women in the energy sector contributes to more sustainable and climate-resilient practices, aligning with the broader goal of mitigating environmental degradation.
  • Social Justice and Economic Growth
    • Beyond its instrumental role in achieving specific SDGs, gender equality in sustainable energy is a matter of social justice.
    • Recognizing and addressing gender disparities in energy access is not only a moral imperative but also a catalyst for overall economic growth and prosperity.

Gender Disparities in the Energy Sector: Reasons and Implications

  • Underrepresentation in the Workforce
    • The energy sector continues to be one of the least gender-diverse industries, with women constituting only 32% of full-time employees in the renewable energy sector and a mere 22% in the broader energy sector.
    • The disparity becomes even more pronounced when compared to the global labour force, where women represent 48% of workers.
  • Educational Barriers and Limited Technical Training
    • Disparities in educational access contribute significantly to the gender gap in the energy sector.
    • Limited opportunities for women to acquire technical skills and training compound the issue, restricting their ability to pursue careers in energy-related fields.
  • Inequitable Policies
    • Workplace policies within the energy sector often perpetuate gender disparities.
    • Discriminatory practices, biased hiring processes, and insufficient family-friendly policies hinder women's progress within the sector.
  • Regional Disparities
    • Disparities in gender representation vary across regions, reflecting the intersectionality of gender with other factors such as culture, socio-economic status, and geographic location.
    • For instance, in India, only 10% of women hold technical posts in the energy sector, highlighting the need for context-specific interventions.
  • Stereotypes and Perceptions
    • Deep-seated stereotypes regarding gender roles and capabilities persist within the energy industry.
    • Preconceived notions often limit women's opportunities to take on leadership roles or pursue careers in technical and engineering fields.
  • Lack of Mentorship and Networking Opportunities
    • Women in the energy sector often face challenges in accessing mentorship and networking opportunities.
    • A lack of role models and supportive networks contributes to the perpetuation of gender imbalances.
  • Impact on Innovation and Productivity
    • The underrepresentation of women in the energy sector stifles innovation and hampers productivity.
    • Diverse teams, including women, bring different perspectives and ideas, fostering creativity and problem-solving in an industry that requires constant innovation.
  • Economic Implications
    • The gender gap in the energy sector has broader economic implications.
    • By limiting the potential of half the workforce, the sector misses out on the valuable contributions that women could bring to drive economic growth and sustainability.

Economic Benefits of Empowering Women in the Energy Sector

  • Boost to Global GDP
    • Closing the gender gap in employment and entrepreneurship within the energy sector has the potential to boost global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by trillions of dollars.
    • By fully utilising the skills, expertise, and innovation of women, the energy industry can significantly contribute to economic growth on a global scale.
  • Diversification and Innovation
    • Women bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the energy sector, fostering innovation and creativity.
    • Diverse teams, including women, are more likely to generate innovative solutions, leading to the development of new technologies and practices that enhance the sector's overall efficiency.
  • Increased Productivity
    • Gender diversity in the workplace has been linked to increased productivity.
    • Women, when provided with equal opportunities, contribute to a more dynamic and productive workforce, positively impacting the overall performance of energy-related projects and initiatives.
  • Job Creation and Economic Inclusion
    • Empowering women in the energy sector leads to the creation of more jobs, thereby contributing to economic inclusion.
    • Increased job opportunities for women not only enhance their economic well-being but also contribute to poverty reduction and economic stability in the broader society.

Way Forward

  • Bridge the Gender Gap
    • Tackling gender disparity requires a change in perception towards women’s role in the energy sector and concerted efforts to mainstream gender in energy policies at the sub-national, national, and international levels.
    • Governments, non-state actors, international institutions and philanthropic organisations have a critical role to play in providing an enabling environment, innovative solutions, and transformative platforms.
    • It will not only increase access to clean energy but also deliver groundbreaking solutions to promote women’s meaningful participation in the sustainable energy transition.
  • Entrepreneurial Ventures and Collective Action
    • Initiatives such as the Energy Transitions Innovation Challenge (ENTICE) provide a forum for individuals, especially women, to embark on entrepreneurial ventures and drive collective action for sustainable energy practices.
    • There is also an opportunity for Distributed Renewable Energy (DRE), which are already being deployed by various State governments in India in collaboration with philanthropic organisations.
    • It will quickly provide affordable energy access and reduce the everyday drudgery of women’s work, thereby increasing their productivity.
    • Solar Mamas is one inspirational initiative started in India by Barefoot College to train illiterate women to become solar engineers, bringing clean power and light to their communities.


  • It is important to recognise that the dialogue on gender and energy has clearly shifted from women being identified as part of vulnerable groups to acknowledging them as key agents of change and decision makers across the energy sector.
  • Gender-responsive and women-led initiatives have been successful in the clean energy space.
  • That is why, this is the right time to harness the power of women and energy to create a more inclusive, prosperous, and sustainable world for present and future generations.

Q1) What are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 global goals established by the United Nations in 2015. They serve as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all by 2030. The goals cover a wide range of interconnected issues, including poverty, hunger, health, education, gender equality, clean water, sanitation, climate action, and more.

Q2) Why are the Sustainable Development Goals important?

The SDGs are crucial because they provide a comprehensive framework for addressing the world's most pressing challenges. By addressing issues such as poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation, the goals aim to create a more sustainable and equitable future. The SDGs emphasise the interconnectedness of global issues and encourage collaboration among countries, organisations, and individuals to work towards common objectives, fostering a collective effort to build a better world for current and future generations.

Source: The Hindu