A Workshop on “Women Entrepreneurs and Sustainable Energy in Africa” was held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Libreville, Gabon on 13-14 June 2017 under the auspices of the sixteenth African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN 16). The theme of this workshop was “Unlocking Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs in Sustainable Energy”: Towards Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and AU Agenda 2063”.
The workshop was hosted by the Government of Gabon and organized by UN Environment in collaboration with Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Icelandic International Development Agency (MFA-ICEIDA), United Nations University-Gender Equality Studies and Trainings (UNU-GEST), “UN Women” and the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA). The Workshop brought together more than 100 delegates from more than 20 countries that included representatives from governments, non-government organizations, civil societies, financiers, women entrepreneurs, multi-lateral agencies, private sectors, and Regional Economic Communities (RECs).
The main objective of this workshop was to develop an action framework under the following themes:
• Theme 1: Environmentally sustainable and gender responsive energy policies
• Theme 2: Access to finance and market for women energy entrepreneurs across the value chain
• Theme 3: Capacity building, skills and empowerment
To this end, panel discussions and working group sessions were organized for each of these themes.
Representing ECREEE at the panel on ‘Environmentally sustainable and gender responsive energy policies’ , Monica Maduekwe, coordinator for the ECOWAS Programme on Gender Mainstreaming in Energy Access (ECOW-GEN), delivered a presentation on ‘Gender-responsive energy policy: the ECOWAS Experience’.
Her presentation highlighted the important role that gender responsive energy policies can play to catalyze change for women entrepreneurs in the energy sector and to promote a more sustainable energy development in Africa. It was emphasized that a gender-responsive energy policy needs to be informed by substantive gender analysis that assess gender gaps in the sector in particular in terms of (i) access to energy and gender differentiated roles in the sector (ii) access to finance and markets as well as (iii) skills to empower women entrepreneurs across the energy value chain, (b) identify actions to fill the gaps, and (c) promotes women’s engagement in the energy sector including in decision-making processes.
The results of the discussion also provided background information for the working group discussion where solutions and recommendations were proposed in detail in order to make energy policies more gender responsive and environmentally sustainable.
Following the panel and working sessions, the following outcome statements were produced:
Environmentally sustainable and gender responsive energy policies
a. Develop and operationalise environmentally sustainable gender responsive energy policies and mainstream gender equality and women’s empowerment commitments into means of implementation, budgets, social protection mechanisms and investments.
b. Develop and operationalise environmentally sustainable and gender responsive accountability frameworks to monitor and report on the gender impacts, targets and results of energy policies.
c. Promote enabling policy mechanisms informed by gender analysis and sex- and age- disaggregated data to accelerate the sustainable growth of micro, small, medium and large women-led enterprises across the energy value chain.
d. Develop and operationalise affirmative actions and accountability mechanisms that will facilitate the effective participation of women entrepreneurs in policy making processes.
e. Strengthen the role of UN Environment and other development partners to play a catalytic role in supporting national governments to harmonise, develop and operationalise cross cutting integrated policies that link energy, environment, gender, finance and other line agencies, and support the translation of such policies in Nationally Determined Contributions.
Access to finance and markets for women energy entrepreneurs across the value chain
a. Remove barriers that hinder women entrepreneurs’ access to affordable finance by promoting innovative financial mechanisms
b. Facilitate access to finance from multi-lateral agencies and development partners (e.g. GEF, GCF, World Bank, AfDB, EU, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Iceland, Sida, NORAD and others) to support women entrepreneurship development programmes in the energy sector.
c. Promote an inclusive enabling environment through instruments such as a guarantee facility that allows women to effectively compete in sustainable energy markets.
d. Develop and implement GEF Energy Impact Programme and others that promote women’s entrepreneurship across sustainable energy value chains in Africa.
Capacity building, skills creation and empowerment for women entrepreneurs
a. Integrate gender and sustainable energy curricula into educational programmes from primary school level to universities, including vocational and technical training institutions.
b. Develop and operationalise capacity development programmes (scholarships, mentoring, internships and others) that will enhance the skills, knowledge and employability of women in the energy sector.
c. Sensitize the general public, including men and boys, on the importance of integrating women and girls in the energy sector.
d. Establish a network of African Women Entrepreneurs in the Energy Sector to exchange, learn and share knowledge and resources.