Written by: Top 50 Women Forum’s Team
Reducing inequalities is one of the most important goals of the 17th “Sustainable Development Goals” of the United Nations. For those unfamiliar with it, it is a set of ambitious and interrelated goals addressing the grand development challenges people face in Egypt and around the world.
The main practicality of the goal we’re spotlighting today is to empower women in the energy sector and provide them with equal opportunities with men, as the energy sector is still one of the least diversified sectors between the two sexes in the labor market.
There is also a popular belief that jobs like research, exploration, and technical work in specific sectors such as oil, natural gas, and power stations should be limited to men, as these jobs require certain physical capabilities. Surprisingly, this isn’t just happening in Egypt but even in the most developed countries too.
However, with the daily change in the international community and the global economy’s determinants, in terms of energy markets, and the shift towards clean energies and innovative and technological solutions in obtaining and reserving energy, we will find a more influential and effective role for women.
Female energy experts, entrepreneurs, and researchers, can find tremendous opportunities for professional growth in this sector.
Empowering women in the energy sector can help fight energy poverty, foster energy sustainability, and accelerate the energy transition. Despite this, the energy sector remains one of the least gender diverse.
But we have to highlight a certain point: to achieve actual results on the ground, women empowering in the energy sector require more serious efforts, as women make up only 22% of the global labor force in oil and gas, according to the International Energy Agency.
Moreover, another study issued by the World Bank on January 2022 showed that women’s representation in the energy sector in the MENA area ranges between 7-9%, while the global average is 32%.
The study, titled “Toward More and Better Jobs for Women in Energy”, was conducted by the bank’s Energy Sector Management Program. The research sample features Egypt, among various countries in the region.
The study’s results revealed that, in Egypt, women’s participation in the energy sector is below 10% on average.
In the same regard, women face countless challenges through their work in many sectors, not just the energy sector.
However, we can say that the challenges facing women empowerment in the energy sector are more urgent, as the sector’s transformation process towards clean energy requires innovative solutions and business models with greater participation of innovation and effective actions by both genders, and work on equal opportunities between women and men in the concerned sector.
Globally, women face numerous challenges, including the lack of proper training and opportunities, inappropriate policies that fail to attract or keep female employees, inflexible workplaces, unequal pay, and support deficiency for women entrepreneurs.
There are other reasons related to why energy policies and gender-neutral programs are not gender-neutral but instead reinforce gender biases, but in all fairness, the whole picture is not so bleak.
On the sidelines of the international and Egyptian efforts to empower women in the energy sector, what is being achieved by the Egypt Petroleum Show (EGYPS) represented by the “Equality in Energy” conference is a glimmer of hope.
The event taking place in Egypt on February 2023, aims to achieve more equality and empowerment of women in the energy sector and encourage women to achieve more creativity and achievements in this field by presenting several awards for some categories, namely, “WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP”, “STEM STAR OF THE YEAR”, and “NEX-GEN FEMALE OF THE YEAR” awards.
Several women in the energy sector compete to earn the crown in each category. Women empowerment in the energy sector is not easy, but it is not impossible either; the Egyptian and international efforts in this direction show a lot of promise.