Clean Energy Ministeiral: Women in Clean Energy 26 april 2012
Anna-Karin Hatt, It- och energiminister
Gender equality must improve in the energy sector
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Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,
We have the last decade globally seen a truly remarkable economic development. Higher living standards. Decreased infant mortality. Improved democracy. A continuous global economic growth has produced so much good.
But nevertheless there is still more to do.
One of the biggest common issues we face, probably the greatest challenge mankind has ever faced, is ongoing climate change. If we don't act now the high living standard we enjoy today might soon be worth little or nothing.
That is why we have to change track. That is why we need to break up old-patterns of thinking and find new solutions. That is why we need to utilize all knowledge there is.
And many of these solutions must be found in the energy field.
But if we continue to think in the same way as we did when we created the present situation we will not find those solutions. If we are to change, and if we are to change our way of thinking, one of the things that are really key is more women in the energy sector.
Because we know that many climate related problems, such as the use of wood fired cooking equipment, often have direct effects on women's daily life in many parts of the world.
Simply put, women's experience and commitment is vital to stop global warming. In fact we cannot afford not to involve women. More than half of the world's population are women - and if we don't use their knowledge and experiences, we will lose out on major innovations and solutions.
This is equally true for the energy sector. We cannot afford to lose out on women's experience and knowledge. I know we will miss many ground breaking ideas if we don't combine both men and women's knowledge and perspectives when fighting such a great challenge as climate change.
My personal experience is that results always improve when we have a balance of men and women in organizations, processes and projects. In all areas of society and business. It is therefore a big problem that the energy sector is so unbalanced when it comes to gender.
And this is true from the bottom to the top. In the EU - with 27 member states - we have only 3 women energy ministers. Here at Clean Energy Ministerial, Ms Peters and I are the only women ministers taking part.
This is not to say that many of our male colleagues aren't extremely talented and intelligent. Many of them are. But the fact that we are so few women energy ministers clearly illustrates a huge structural problem.
In many other sectors it is increasingly recognized that the absence of women also means the absence of diverse perspectives, of different approaches and of certain contributions. Simply put: the global environmental and climate challenge would benefit if we had more women in the energy sector.
Gender equality is needed throughout energy production and energy use.
In research and innovation.
In product and service development.
In sales, marketing and leadership.
And innovation and product development is most important of all. Because it is through innovation and product development that we will stop climate change. And if we are to find efficient and useful innovations we need to use the experience, knowledge and perspectives of both men and women.
Access to clean energy in developing countries is one good example. More efficient and modern cooking solutions could improve both living standards and health for many people. To recognize that cooking is a field for energy improvement and to realise the most efficient solutions we need the key knowledge and experience from the field. And this field globally tends to be female and therefore it is their knowledge and experience we need.
The C3E initiative (Clean Energy Education and Empowerment initiative), within the Clean Energy Ministerial, is important and can be very useful in changing this. To share good examples, to discuss barriers and work together to narrow the gap between men and women in the energy sector.
Ladies and gentlemen, our common challenge is clear. We must stop climate change. And in order to do so, we simply cannot afford to lose out on innovation. Therefore we simply cannot afford to not have more women in research and innovation, in product and service development and in decision-making.
Both women and men are needed if we are to stop climate change. Together we can and must change track and move towards a sustainable society. A society which draws on the knowledge and experiences from both women and men, and a society that improves living conditions for us all.