Empowering education for men and women is crucial to tackling climate change 

 

2020 will be a critical year to address the dangerous impacts of climate change. Under the Paris agreement, global emissions must be cut by at least 45% by 2030 in order limit a global temperature increase to 1.5°C. This year marks the deadline for signatories to communicate their updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which must demonstrate an increased ambition from current emissions paths.

The updated NDCs must include comprehensive and ambitious mitigation efforts to reduce emissions at their source, as well as effective and inclusive climate adaptation strategies to adjust human systems to the climate crisis. However, emissions targets alone will not be sufficient to tackle the systemic drivers of climate change, such as poverty, gender inequality, and access to education.

Gender equality is crucial to design effective climate policies. National and international efforts to tackle climate change must also address gender inequality by ensuring empowering and transformative education for both men and women.

When it comes to energy, women are those who stand to benefit the most from access to safe and clean energy sources. Women are not a special interest group in the renewable energy sector, but they are the primary users and are often key players in the energy generation.

Women influence households decisions regarding energy purchase, and women’s networks constitute powerful promoters of clean energy solutions. Without the active involvement of women, renewable energy policies risk being inappropriate and ineffective.

A gender-mainstreamed approach to designing and implementing clean energy policies stands to benefit all. Equal access to better education will be crucial to increase women’s participation across the industry. Best practices in education include:

  • Encouraging women to pursue STEM disciplines from an early age. The STEM field is ever-expanding, but women continue to be underrepresented. Studies demonstrate that science achievement gaps between male and female students emerge by kindergarten years, which urges a restructuring of education to encourage women to pursue scientific disciplines from an early age.
  • Breaking gendered career paths perceptions. Women’s achievements in STEM are largely undermined by cultural biases on the side of both men and women. Field-specific believes about what it takes to succeed in STEM create environments where women may feel welcomed or excluded. However, it is important to highlight that the renewable energy field necessitates highly diverse skills, and female recruitment into the workforce may be encouraged by raising awareness on varied career opportunities available for people with a broad range of experience.
  • Training, mentorship and skills-sharing to advance and retain careers. Education is an ongoing process, and programs should be in place to facilitate women’s career advancement in the renewable energy field via training, mentorship and skills-sharing at all levels. In view of existing gender imbalances, men and women should be supported with programs to promote their mutual advancement to leadership positions and create inclusive role models for the younger generations.

Share your thoughts on the role of education in furthering climate action and a more inclusive clean energy industry with [email protected].

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