International Women’s Month Webinar 2021- #ChooseToChallenge Young Women Challenging the Norm In The Energy Access Sector
* Oluwatomi Omogbai and ** Ifeoma Malo
Celebrating Women’s Month 2021
Women all over the world deserve a future free from stigma, stereotypes and violence; a future that is sustainable, peaceful, with equal rights and opportunities for all. To get us there, the world needs women’s voice at the table where decisions are being made.
The energy sector is highly male dominated, with women underrepresented as policy makers, implementers, and representatives of public and private institutions.
The month of March every year is dedicated to celebrate the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world, challenging the norm in society and highlighting the gaps that remain. The theme for the year 2021 “ChooseToChallenge” is a call out to challenge gender bias, inequality in the workplace.
In commemoration of the women’s month in March, Clean Technology Hub hosted a webinar tagged “Young Women Challenging The Norm In The Energy Access Sector” with the aim of engaging young women looking to build and grow a career in the energy sector.
The panelist were Glory Oguegbu (CEO, Renewable Energy Training Institute- RETTI), Queen Aghomon (Assistant Country Manager, The Africa Clean Energy Technical Assistance Facility — ACE TAF), Boluwasope Ogboye (Program Associate, The Nigeria Off-grid Market Acceleration Program- NoMAP), Tosin George (Operations and Program Coordinator, Energy Talent Company- ETC) and Talatu Tarfa (Deputy Manager, Clean Technology Hub — CTH). The session was moderated by Oluwatomi Omogbai (Associate, Gender and New Energy Frontiers — CTH).
The panelists engaged in insightful discussions on how women are beginning to find their place within the energy access value chain especially in the area of energy finance, engineering, human resources and so on. However, the gap is still very much wide because many women are still unaware of these opportunities and there are some prevailing challenges that exist within the sector.
Overview of the Panel Discussion
Highlights from the panel discussion are discussed below
Starting a career in the energy sector: Making an informed decision when starting a career in the energy sector is very important. Glory Oguegbu, a young woman who started her career in this sector, was inspired by a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) campaign with the caption — “stop climate change before it changes you”. This spurred an interest in research on identifying the knowledge gap which has helped shape a training institute that is now geared towards educating people in the renewable energy sector. Inspiration is fuel for sustaining success. Women should not be afraid to take on tasks that are seemingly bigger than themselves. Learning to communicate the value one provides is expedient so the world knows the solutions you proffer. “curiosity is key — to stay sharp, is to stay curious”- Glory Oguegbu.
There are several opportunities in the renewable energy industry to explore and women can also be a part of the global transition by providing energy access solutions. There is a wide range network of people who are already championing emerging technologies to increase energy access.
Overcoming challenges women face in the energy sector: There are a lot of obstacles faced by young women in the energy access sector, highlighting a few of them; gender bias and stereotypes on the job, lack of confidence etc. To overcome these challenges, women need to see beyond them and not allow themselves to be deterred from achieving great feats. The importance of mentorship and role models cannot be overemphasized especially for young women who are in the early phase of their career.
A major challenge women face when leading men is resistance. Women need to be goal-oriented in order to win men over, dealing with men in wisdom and being firm when communicating. As a woman of substance who offers great value, earning respect from men is not far fetched. Emphasis is laid on the need for young women to upskill and decide also what leadership style best suits them.
Sustaining relevance in the energy sector: Much more than starting a career in the energy sector is remaining relevant and staying on course. This can be achieved by making meaningful acquaintance, growing networks, adding value and taking opportunities, making sure your voice is heard and without fear. It is important not to underestimate the importance of soft skills and training as this will be of good advantage in the advancement of one’s career.
Balancing work and life responsibilities in the energy sector: Managing life responsibilities and career is challenging and women find it difficult balancing these, but they must understand that
success is holistic and this includes taking care of one’s mental and emotional health. “Exercise is key, reading books and creating a work life balance.” — Queen Aghomon.
Being bold and certain of one’s interests in the sector is key as this will help fuel one’s passion. Also, there is a need for originality when proffering solutions. There are myriads of opportunities for young women to explore in the sector. Having a wide range of networks, extensive knowledge by reading and learning, investing in oneself is needed for right positioning.
Women #choose to challenge societal norms to enable women to have a voice; #choose to challenge bringing in women as an afterthought and have a balance; # choose to challenge not giving the girl child quality education; #choose to challenge the unconscious bias in the workplace and the underrepresentation of women in leadership.
We can all #choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality.
We can all #choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements.
Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world!
* Oluwatomi Omogbai is an associate on Gender and New Energy Frontiers at Clean Technology Hub
** Ifeoma Malo is the CEO of Clean Technology Hub