Gender equality is an issue being addressed by the 15 member countries of the Economic Community of West African States with the goal of regional collaboration and policymaking to enhance the role of women in the energy work force. By gaining a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between the developments of clean energy with those of gender inclusivity issues, the members are positioning themselves to achieve the Sustainable Energy for All initiative and Sustainable Development Goals. Member countries came together to develop an analysis of gender integration issues as they currently stand, in order to better inform efforts towards a gender equal work force. The analysis highlighted the need for an effective communications strategy to better inform constituent stakeholders and policy makers. This analysis laid the groundwork for a transformational policy change in the form of Policy for Gender Mainstreaming and Energy Access.
Together with multiple other institutions, a report by the title of “Situations Analysis of Energy and Gender Issues” was developed. It was shown that women in the region were less represented in the energy decision-making work force, even though women will be disproportionately more affected by consequences of climate change. For e.g., it was found that in Burkina Faso that only 25% of the Ministerial employees were women, and in Guinea only 18% of the Renewable Energy Division were women.
This “Situations Analysis of Energy and Gender Issues” laid the groundwork for a transformational policy change in the form of “Policy for Gender Mainstreaming and Energy Access”. Key findings of the report include issues surrounding the lack of representation of women in decision-making roles and that an effective communication strategy was needed in all member states to communicate these findings to policy makers and stake holders. The Gender policy was reviewed by stakeholders in 2015, and is now set to be implemented by member countries in 2017. The policy identifies challenges that can be addressed through realistic solutions in regards to gender and energy issues. An increased participation of women in the supply chain can increase the adoption rate of climate change policies, thereby reinforcing the fact that creating a gender balanced work force can have an positive impact on economy as well. A few examples of the key action items proposed are; (a) ensuring that all programs/policies/initiatives are non-discriminatory, (b) education and training for women to enable the increase of their public sector participation in the long-term to 50%, (c) ensure equal opportunities for men and women to enter and succeed in the energy sector work-force and (d) establish and maintain a monitoring and accountability methodology.