Members of Parliament in Southern Africa have been urged to take concrete action in driving the legislative agenda to advance gender equality in the renewable energy sector.
Speaker of the National Assembly of Zimbabwe, Advocate Jacob Mudenda said during a virtual workshop with parliamentarians from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that women entrepreneurship within the energy sector has the potential to significantly enhance economic growth.
Women face challenges in accessing renewable energy products and technologies because of the prohibitive start-up cost of installing such equipment. As a result, women walk long distances to collect firewood, which is usually heavy, compromising health and well-being.
“It is of significance that Members of Parliament take a concrete legislative agenda whose objective is to expeditiously gender mainstream renewable energy in their respective countries,” Mudenda said.
In this regard, there is a need for SADC member states to formulate and implement policies that mainstream these gender variables in renewable energy initiatives, including ways to make renewable energy more accessible to more women.
Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia, Prof Peter Katjavivi said parliamentarians should play an important role in facilitating gender representation, participation and mainstreaming in all areas.
“It is our role as parliamentarians to ensure that we push for the enabling legislation to facilitate gender equal representation, participation and mainstreaming in all areas, including renewable energy, so that both women and men reap the benefits and livelihoods are improved,” Katjavivi said.
The secretary-general of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, Boemo Sekgoma said the renewable energy sector has different impacts on women and men, therefore it is critical to develop gender-responsive laws and policies in SADC member states.
“It is essential that SADC governments work with national parliaments to devise gender-responsive laws and policies that close the existing gaps and give women and young girls the necessary education, knowledge and skills to understand the prospects which renewable energy offers and to become part of the renewable energy revolution,” she said.
The executive director of the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), Munetsi Madakufamba assured parliamentarians that SARDC is ready to join forces and support national parliaments and the region in building capacity to advance the gender and renewable energy agenda.
SARDC is an independent regional knowledge resource centre that seeks to strengthen regional policy perspectives through relevant research that informs development.
Established in 1985, SARDC has a strong track record of experience and expertise in research, collecting, analysing, writing, documenting and disseminating knowledge from a regional perspective in a way that is accessible for different audiences, including policy and decision makers in the public and private sectors, parliaments, academics, development agencies, the media and the public.
One of the most prominent of the SARDC institutes is the Beyond Inequalities Gender Institute that produces a regular publication for SADC on gender mainstreaming, the SADC Gender and Development Monitor, and organised this virtual workshop for parliamentarians with the SADC Parliamentary Forum.
The main aim of the virtual workshop was to strengthen the capacity of parliamentarians to integrate gender issues into the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes in the SADC renewable energy sector.
The workshop stimulated dialogue among the parliamentarians on how to champion gender mainstreaming in the renewable energy sector through the passage of appropriate legislation and monitoring of implementation.
The lively workshop was well-attended, drawing participants from nine SADC member states who were enthusiastic in their discussions and clear about their capacity needs which they said were largely related to access to relevant knowledge to drive forward the agenda and achieve results.
Workshop participants, who were drawn from the parliamentary committees responsible for gender and energy in SADC member states, said they would use their constitutional mandates of law-making, oversight and representation to promote gender equality and equity in the renewable energy sector.
The workshop, which was hosted by the SARDC in collaboration with the SADC PF and the Parliament of Zimbabwe, was attended by legislators from Angola, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. — sardc.net.