In Uganda, the renewable energy sector employs only 22% of women leaving nearly the entire sector dominated by men.

By Guest Writer

OPINION: Globally, women account for 32% of the renewable energy workforce with 45% working in administrative positions and 28% working in STEM related fields.

In Uganda, the renewable energy sector employs only 22% of women leaving nearly the entire sector dominated by men.

Over 95% of the 43 million Ugandan population still cook on 3-stove fires using fuels and it is the unsustainable level of biomass consumption coupled with a high population growth rate that is causing the country to lose 86kha of tree cover every year. No forest will be left in 40 years if the consumption rate continues.

With the poor cooking practices, over 10,000 Ugandans die prematurely every year from illnesses attributable to household air pollution making women and children the most affected.

Moreso,the World Health Organization (WHO, 2014) indicates that there are three billion people, 40% of the world that still rely on biomass for cooking, lighting and heating and this has resulted in cancer, pneumonia, heart, lung disease, blindness and burns (Lim, 2012).

The renewable energy sector needs to attract more women so that they are introduced to clean cooking technologies. This will save them the burden of moving long distances in search of biomass and fuelwood. Besides, they will alsobe savedfrom thetoxic smoke instigated by the fossil fuels that have been exposing them to health menaces, safety and security risks such us harassment, abduction, and rape.

Women inclusion in the renewable energy sector will therefore act as a central role in attaining the two Sustainable Development Goals of 7 and 10 that calls for affordable clean energy and reduced inequalities respectively.

For the two Sustainable Development Goals to be realized, all the entry barriers attached to the renewable energy sector such as biased hiring Practices, lack of access to career information, lack of mentorship and training opportunities, sexual harassment and gender bias must be addressed.

I urge the government and the minister of energy to empower more women in the clean energy sector by developing gender-sensitive programmes that will motivate women to take on the clean energy jobs without encountering difficulties.

Lastly, women should be trained as solar energy technologists since it is the most clean, reliable and affordable source of clean energy compared to fossil fuels that have been exposing women to health risks and climate change impacts.

The author is Hildah Nsimiire, Researcher at Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies.

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