Women in the Renewable Sector

May 15, 2018
8 months

What is the issue?

  • Government has committed to installing 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022.
  • This provides an immense opportunity for employing women and reducing poverty in rural areas.

What is the current state of women workforce in India?

  • More than 270 million Indians live in poverty (World Bank Report) and India also ranks very poorly on female labour force participation.
  • Constraints - Some estimates hold that India can increase its GDP by up to 60% by 2025 by enabling more women to participate in its workforce.
  • But social and cultural constraints can prevent this from becoming a reality.
  • Many women who work outside home still have primary household and parenting responsibilities that need to be balanced with their work life.
  • Opportunity - The government has committed to installing 175 GW of Renewable Energy (RE) by 2022.
  • This provides an immense opportunity for women and the rural poor. 
  • Notably, as many as 3.3 lakh jobs are expected to be created in the wind and solar energy sectors alone.

What is the situation in Renewable sector?

  • India’s RE industry presently has low participation of women, and even the few women engaged are mostly daily wage labourers.  
  • Moreover, the working conditions on many sites are not always suitable for women as they are devoid of safety and support systems.
  • In the current situation, jobs requiring some skilling are completely closed for women as formal education and training largely continues to elude them.
  • One has to pass 12th grade to get into technical training institutions and these institutions are largely concentrated in urban and semi-urban centres.
  • These are significant entry barriers for rural women workforce participation, and this hurdle only enhances with the burden of household responsibilities. 
  • Consequently, there are very few women in production, facilities, and operations and maintenance roles in the RE sector.

Why is RE sector significant for women empowerment?

  • A recent study has stated that some tweaks in the system might enable the RE sector to impact poverty by opening up opportunities for the poor. 
  • Particularly with the growth of the decentralised RE and off-grid energy sector, there is significant potential to include local women in the workforce.
  • Hence, the government, enterprises, training institutes and civil society should work together to tap the potential of rural women for RE projects.
  • Importantly, for such interventions to be successful, it needs to be designed with women at the centre and not as an afterthought.

What are the specifics needed?

  • Training institutes could reduce the bar on entry, allowing for less formally educated women to learn new skills and receive training.
  • Training should be customised to respect specific needs like location, hours of engagement, safety, sanitation and women specific needs.
  • Mobile training modules that can cater to small groups of women in remote areas can be developed.
  • Training institutes and civil society organisations should collaborate with enterprises to help trained women secure employment.
  • Such efforts will enable India’s transition to clean energy to also brighten the prospect of empowering our women and addressing poverty.


Source: The Hindu

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