Renewable Energy (RE) is being considered as a rapidly growing sector to create jobs in India; mainly in the areas of Solar PV Energy. Can this sector work for women as well? This article tries to answer this question in perspective of the rural poor women workforce.
India has a target to achieve 175 GW of Renewable Energy (RE) by 2022, of which 100 GW will be from Solar Power. A major part of these projects is supposed to come up in the rural areas of India which is home to these poor women. Still, the Solar sector is being considered as men dominated sector as the participation of the local women is mainly for a temporary period of masonry work during the foundation work of the module mounting structures or some other related civil works in the plant. Mainly they are engaged in various labour-intensive works which have very less potential to take the women workforce in the higher career graph. So, these are very limited opportunities for the rural women workforce considering that the life of 20-25 years of the solar power plants.
Rural women workforce can very well be utilized in various non-technical (for general workforce) as well as technical work (with a minimum required technical education) also. And, this way the local rural women workforce can earn their livelihoods on regular basis for a long period and come out of the poverty.
Currently, India’s RE industry sector, as with other sectors, has low participation of women. India ranks a poor 120 among 131 countries on female labour force participation, according to World Bank data. The below are some of the possible reasons for the low participation of the women workforce in the RE sector in India: –
- The mindset of the project owners still to be matured to accommodate women workforce by creating right environment into the project and support system
- The local women workforce for technical or non-technical activities are not considered because of the lack of required qualification or training. This is again since they usually do not get the opportunity to have minimum qualification (10th or 12th pass) which bar them to enroll into the various courses
- Even if these rural women clear the prerequisite to get admission to the training institutions; the location of these institutions in the urban areas make another reason of not getting right education /skill
All these key reasons make the rural women workforce not eligible to get job into the RE sector in the services like production, execution and even operation & maintenance services.
Worldwide, it is well-known that there is huge potential for the rural women workforce to earn livelihoods in the Solar PV energy sector. But, the question arises how the rural women workforce can be engaged into the RE sector. This will only be possible if the Government, Developers and Local Social Enterprises/ Civil Society Organizations work together from the early stage of the project for this noble intention in mind.