Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) has made significant strides towards renewable energy and low carbon solutions. By embarking on the first utility scale renewable power generation facility, launching ‘The Roadmap for a Green Hydrogen Economy’, as well as commencing the Solar Park Project at the Piarco International Airport, the country has confirmed its commitment towards reducing its carbon emissions and contributing to the sustainable development of its energy sector.
Additionally, during the Trinidad and Tobago Energy Conference in January 2023, the Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Hon. Dr. Keith Rowley, mentioned the viability of producing green hydrogen in the country with the deployment of renewable energy projects.
Apart from the benefits it can bring to the country in terms of renewable energy, the development of a green hydrogen economy can also be an opportunity to promote gender equality. Understanding the energy and gender nexus as it relates to ensuring that there is equal representation from all groups of society throughout the decision-making and service delivery process is critical to ensure that renewable energy projects do not perpetuate gender inequalities. New investments into renewable energy projects foster opportunities for employment creation, which is an important aspect to be explored with policy impacts worldwide; it is expected that the energy sector will create 122 million jobs by 2050, including 43 million in renewables alone.
Women participation in renewable energy jobs at the global level, is much higher than in oil and gas jobs. For example, according to IRENA, women represent 40% of the jobs in solar PV, while in the traditional oil and gas sector this participation is only 22%. These statistics indicate renewable energy has the potential to be an equal employer, but more work is still needed to increase the participation of women across all energy sectors.
Mainstreaming gender into T&T’s nascent green hydrogen industry
According to the Central Statistical Office of Trinidad and Tobago, women account for only 27% of employment in the electricity sector. Women’s participation in the energy sector’s workforce is perceived as challenging given the limited access to information or low participation of women in STEM programs, favoring men which may hinder women entering the work force in the energy value chain.
Current research suggests that diverse teams increase profitability and make better decisions, and a higher percentage of women on company boards brings higher returns on equity and investment. The ongoing transformation of the sector, in terms of generation and industry (i.e. digitalization, market reforms, or renewables) calls for a change in the business model, including updating the human resources model to attract more women. According to Loop and DeNicola, women serve as change agents as they are more likely to be sensitive to social issues, which by extension can lead to transformation in the workplace and service delivery.
T&T has documented progress in gender mainstreaming activities given the formation of a Women in Energy Network, and there have also been instances where other key women groups bring awareness to the importance of sustainable energy. Private sector companies, such as Shell T&T, have also adopted an inclusive approach in their global operations. Another example of promoting gender parity in business in T&T is the AMCHAM T&T-IDB partnership on the Women in Leadership Mentorship Programme that inspires women to create transformational legacies.
Having this in mind, sustainable renewable energy initiatives must start with adequate gender and sex disaggregated data, as it relates to levels of employment and representation across different positions. Strengthening capacities of key institutions to mainstream gender activities is an integral part of gender responsive approaches in designing projects and operations within the energy and power generation sector in T&T.
This blog may have encouraged you to identify additional strategies for gender equality in the energy and power generation sector that would be suitable for the twin-island state. We welcome you to share your thoughts: How can we improve gender equality in the energy and power sectors in T&T?