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Sustainable energy and women’s autonomy : Prioritizing gender equality

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Sustainable energy and women’s autonomy : Prioritizing gender equality

The role of women in sustainable and inclusive development in Africa is undeniable. The need to create jobs in Africa is immediate, the female labor force and women entrepreneurs are the key.

Precarity of jobs in Africa

Most of African countries are classified as low-income countries. One of the main obstacles to the continent’s growth is the lack for decent and formal jobs. In Africa, the share of the informal sector in the labor market is really high, this concerns more women and young graduates because this sector seems to offer them more gain, flexible working conditions and less regulations.

It’s important to note that the African population is more affected by vulnerable employment than unemployment. In the informal sector, working conditions and social protection are nonexistent. Furthermore, the continent needs more skilled human capital. Alongside this situation is a disparity between men and women and between rural and urban areas.

Nevertheless, some elements indicate there are solutions, whether immediate or long-term. First and foremost, there is an immediate need to create jobs, especially for unskilled labor, and there is also a need for solutions that can contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth.

Gender equality and climate change in Africa

The role of women in economic development is undeniable, yet they continue to face discrimination. In Africa, despite progress in gender equality, the situation is still critical, especially in West Africa.

This discrimination limits women’s access to opportunities. Studies have shown that poor women with less education are more likely to have health problems. In sub-Saharan Africa, around 60 % of women work in agriculture, making them more exposed to climate shocks, among other challenges.

Example of sustainable investment in the textile sector in Madagascar

The clothing and textile industry using low-carbon emission equipment, materials, or energy sources can promote Africa’s sustainable and inclusive economy.

In Madagascar, for example, numerous studies have shown the positive contribution of the clothing industry to poverty reduction, economic growth, gender equality, and job creation. The textile industry can improve households’ living conditions and women’s wages through job creation and increased salaries. According to a study by Fukunishi, exports in the clothing industry have contributed to increased employment and poverty reduction in Madagascar. Fukunishi further studied how export processing zones in the clothing industry have increased wages for women without higher education. Women comprise 56.3 % of total employment, and the results showed no wage difference between female and male workers.

Case of Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and other Sub-Saharan African countries

Several companies and NGOs focus on advancing sustainable and inclusive economies in sub-Saharan Africa.

In Kenya, « Women in Sustainable Energy and Entrepreneurship » aims to eradicate gender-related injustices by providing training and mentoring for women in the energy sector.

Another example is the Italian NGO Fondazione ACRA, an organization dedicated to empowering women in rural and underserved areas of Senegal. The foundation offers training in entrepreneurship and technical skills in sustainable energy.

Also, for instance, in Nigeria, Burasolutions Academy, a spin-off of the Nigerian company Bura Solutions Energy, a solar panel supplier, offers courses for students to acquire technical skills. They also provide scholarships, especially to women.

Finally, In Sierra Leone, where about 3,000 lives are lost on average each year due to childbirth complications, the NGO WE CARE emphasizes gender equality by providing electricity services to maternity facilities.

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