Integrating Women into Grameen Shakti's Renewable Energy Value Chain in Bangladesh: A Study of the Project and Lessons Learned
This assessment report considers gender equality and women’s empowerment in Bangladesh, and covers a study focused on the USAID-funded Rural Empowerment through Renewable Energy project. This 15-day technological training for rural women in Bangladesh helped to integrate women into the Grameen Shakti (or GS, the leading renewable energy company in the country) renewable energy value chain, and also provided employment to some of these women. The program looked at skills capacity building, womens’ status after program implementation, and lessons learned for future renewable energy programs.
From 2005 to 2010, the project established 35 Grameen Technology Centers that provided 15 days of technical renewable energy training to 2,797 rural women. However, despite the large number of women trained, a follow-up survey found that 86 of the women (3 percent) work for GS and none are entrepreneurs in the renewable energy sector. The 86 women who attended training and work for GS came mostly from poor families (compared to other trainees) and even less had graduated from high school, but are now able to contribute to their household income and communities with their skill set.
Excerpt from the report:
The study identified the following as lessons that may be learned from the Rural Empowerment through the Renewable Energy project in Bangladesh and its outcomes:
- Comprehensive understanding and agreement should be reached between funder, implementer, and potential employers in he sector on all aspects of post-training integration.
- Gender segmentation in supply chains or production lines should be identified prior to human capital formation projects and plans made to address this constraint.
- Training should be appropriate to the context and apply to multiple outcomes; for example, the low level of employment of women in the assembly and repair of SHS components could have led to consideration of the need for broader training for women technicians to enable them to repair radios, cellphones, and television sets.
- Training alone does not guarantee entrance and integration into renewable energy value chains, or in any other sector. Complementary or even alternative strategies such as apprenticeship or enforceable targets for women's employment shiould be considered as options.
- Future initiative in this field should incorporate robust reporting systems and sufficient flexibility to assure receipt of timely feedback, so that remedial corrective action can be taken to respond to unanticipated changes sush as unfavorable market conditions.