What can be done to advance and retain women in Africa’s cutting-edge renewables companies, ask directors Makena Ireri from GEAPP and Ciara Remerscheid from Shortlist Futures.

Climate change is a growing threat, and it is poised to affect Africa – and specifically African women – the hardest. From extreme weather events to diminishing water resources and agricultural disruptions, the impacts of climate change on the continent are far-reaching and severe. Despite contributing minimally to global greenhouse gas emissions, African countries bear a disproportionate burden of the consequences. Furthering the inequality, African women experience the greatest repercussions of climate change due to the unequal burden of food production, water collection and other responsibilities.

Research emphasises that women’s participation in decision-making processes and leadership roles within the energy sector leads to more inclusive solutions. Despite this, research from the IFC shows that women hold only a quarter of leadership and manager roles at renewable energy companies in sub-Saharan Africa.

So, what are the barriers that women face in accessing and advancing in clean energy careers? A report by Shortlist and the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) into the issue found that social norms and cultural biases, both within companies and in wider communities and families, play a critical role in shaping the structural barriers observed in hiring, advancement and workplace dynamics.

For example, clean energy companies struggle with hiring and retaining women in field-based sales and technician roles due to perceptions about safety and physical labour. While relocation can provide professionals with opportunities for growth, it is often experienced as disruptive for women who are married or have children because it often pulls them away from social networks that provide help with childcare and domestic support.

Take action

Luckily, there are many actions that companies can take to improve gender equity both in hiring and retention. Overtly encouraging women to apply in job advertisements remains one of the lowest-cost and easiest ways for companies to attract women to roles. For example, simply including language like “Women are encouraged to apply” can increase female application rates. Throughout the hiring process, companies should ensure they have female representation in terms of interviewers, so that women can see themselves at the company, and use unbiased, skills-based assessment to evaluate applicants.

It is critical to not just pay attention to the pipeline of women entering the field, but also the factors leading to retention and advancement. Research shows that to support women employees, companies will need to continue improving workplace features, including structured training, mentorship and coaching programmes, transparent pathways to promotion, flexible maternity leave policies and access to female role models.

A recent gender pay equity analysis of clean energy professionals in Sub-Saharan Africa finds that third-party training and placement programmes also play a crucial role in boosting compensation parity between male and female employees, further demonstrating the need for structured support. Several African clean energy companies, including Husk Power, Nuru, Sistema.bio and Sun King, have already made great strides in improving gender equity among their workforces.

By promoting women’s leadership in clean energy companies, projects and decision-making processes, Africa can unlock harness the power of women to drive the continent’s clean energy revolution forward.



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