Welcome remarks by Dafina Gercheva UNDP Resident Representative in Ukraine
23 November 2021
Excellencies, distinguished guests, dear colleagues,
It is an honour and a privilege to welcome you to today’s Third Annual Conference “Energy has no gender.”
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, women and men experience the availability and use of energy quite differently. For example, blackouts that occur during meal preparation or while conducting household duties can often mean more work for women since unpaid care is still largely shouldered by women. Furthermore, research from the European Commission suggests that more women than men may be subject to energy poverty, which is an expression used to describe a situation where ‘a household is unable to afford the most basic levels of energy for adequate heating, cooking, lighting and use of appliances in the home.’ Most of woman-headed households with lower incomes are also disproportionately subject to energy poverty.
Closing the gender gap in the energy sector will be vital as both women and men are key drivers of innovative and inclusive solutions to the world's most pressing development challenges. As energy and climate action are closely interlinked, the need for immediate change in the representation of men and women in the sector and their equitable access to resources and decision-making is becoming a critical part of the way forward towards a more sustainable and inclusive future, where no one is left behind.
This conference sets a trend in the right direction. We see a new momentum from around the world to put gender equality at the forefront of climate action and green transition, as countries and non-state actors make clear gender equality commitments, acknowledging that sustainability should have inclusion and equity at its heart. This is good news because when women are involved in decision-making regarding consumer choices, the choices are better. According to the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), women tend to be more sustainable consumers than men: they pay more attention to green procurement; they attach more importance to energy-efficient transport and fuels; and they are more willing to change their behavior to achieve sustainability goals.
While the world seems to be moving in the right direction, there are ongoing challenges, which call for urgent and collective action. The small steps being made today provide but a slight glimpse at what potential is still unrealized for gender equality considerations in the areas of investments, access to and availability of energy supply, tariffs and pricing, infrastructure, community participation in strategies development, human resources planning and tackling environmental issues.
The green transition is a key economic factor underpinning national development priorities across the European Union. According to Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council, innovation in renewable energy production will contribute to 2.7 million more jobs in the sector over the next 20 years. However, the insufficient supply of required specialists in the field is impeding this enormous potential. Recent estimates put the average percentage of women working in the power sector worldwide at just 22-25 percent of total work force. This is probably because fewer women than men pursue studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Therefore, the right incentives should be introduced to attract women to pursue careers in STEM.
UNDP in Ukraine, together with our partners, systematically advocate for increasing women's participation in decision-making processes, women’s economic empowerment, and eradication of GBV.
We are also supporting the Government of Ukraine to transition to a greener economy – one that is socially inclusive and equitable, produces very little carbon, is resource-efficient, and creates more jobs and prosperity for men and women from diverse groups. Within the UNDP's Climate Promise Initiative, we assessed gender-related challenges in climate policy – including energy, waste management, transport, and other sectors – and provided series of recommendations to address them. Many of our proposals were incorporated in Ukraine’s updated Nationally-Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement.
We should never slow our pace in building a gender equal and sustainable future for all Ukrainians. UNDP stands ready to continue working with the public and private sectors, and civil society in Ukraine to ensure equality and inclusion in decision making and in securing a future filled with shared prosperity that leaves no one behind.
In closing, I would like to say that I am greatly inspired by events like these, which provide a powerful arena for participatory and meaningful dialogue on women’s empowerment as a strong accelerator of sustainable and inclusive development.
I am looking forward to an animated and productive discussion.