Green jobs and the problem of gender disparity

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    Syllabus: GS3/ Economy

    Context

    • The transition to low-carbon development has the potential to add about 35 million green jobs in India by 2047

    About Green Jobs

    • The International Labour Organization defines green jobs as “decent jobs that contribute to preservation or restoration of the environment”. 
    • They involve the development, application, and maintenance of technologies, products, and services that help conserve natural resources, reduce pollution, and mitigate climate change.

    Types of Green Jobs

    • Renewable Energy: Jobs in solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower sectors like installation, maintenance, and manufacturing of equipment.
    • Energy Efficiency: Roles in building design, energy audits, and development of energy-efficient appliances and technologies.
    • Environmental Protection: Jobs in conservation, waste management, pollution control, and environmental restoration.
    • Sustainable Agriculture: Positions in organic farming, precision agriculture, and sustainable land management practices.
    • Green Transportation: Jobs in electric vehicle manufacturing, clean fuel development, and public transportation systems.

    Status in India

    • India has the potential to create up to 35 million green jobs by 2047 across traditional and emerging sectors, including renewable energy, waste management, electric vehicles, green construction and sustainable textiles, according to ‘The ‘Gearing Up the Workforce for a Green Economy’ report by Skill Council for Green Jobs (SCGJ).
    • The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) estimates that solar photovoltaic (PV) projects built in India between 2011 and 2014 created approximately 24,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs.
    • The wind sector has created about 45,000 FTE jobs so far, according to government estimates. 

    Benefits of Green Jobs

    • Environmental Impact: Contribute to a healthier planet by reducing pollution, conserving resources, and mitigating climate change.
    • Economic Growth: The green economy is a rapidly growing sector, creating new job opportunities and economic development.
    • Innovation and Technology: Green jobs often involve cutting-edge technologies and contribute to advancements in sustainability solutions.
    • Job Satisfaction: Many individuals find green jobs personally rewarding, knowing they are contributing to environmental well-being.

    Green jobs and Gender Equality

    Issues

    • Men in lead: Globally, men are likely to transition to green jobs faster than women. 
    • Lesser participation of women: Even as India increased its renewable energy capacity by 250% between 2015 to 2021, women comprised merely 11% of workers in the solar rooftop sector. 
    • Concentration in non-green sectors: The Annual Survey of Industries 2019-20 shows that women workers are mostly concentrated in industries such as apparel, textile, leather, food, and tobacco.
      • In contrast, a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) 2019 report shows that men comprise 85% of the workforce in sectors such as infrastructure, transport, construction, and manufacturing.
    • Skill gap: A study in 2023 by the Skill Council for Green Jobs indicated that 85% of the training for green skills was imparted to men while over 90% of women believed that social norms limited their participation in training for green jobs.
      • These restrictive social norms include factors such as the belief that women are unsuitable for certain technical roles, safety concerns, lower representation in STEM subjects, and familial constraints.

    Measures needed:

    • Unlock potential: As India embraces a green transition, empowering women and advancing gender equity in climate actions will be one of the keys to unlock the co-benefits of a low-carbon and environmentally sustainable economy. 
    • Increase representation: Increasing women’s representation in green jobs has several benefits.
      • In the short run, it can address the gender biases in the Indian labour market and improve women’s labour force participation rates. 
      • In the long run, this can contribute to improving women’s agency and their empowerment by creating economic, technical, and social opportunities.
    • Address the gaps in data: There is limited data to understand the landscape of women’s work for green jobs in India. Mapping emerging areas for green growth and collecting sex-disaggregated data on green jobs could be the starting point to improve women’s participation. 
    • Assess impact: There is need to build evidence on the present and future impact of low-carbon transitions on women workers and entrepreneurs while considering the hidden and invisible roles played by women across different sectors and geographies. 
    • Incorporate gender analysis: Conducting gender analysis, collecting gender statistics on green jobs through periodic labour force surveys and mobilising additional resources to emphasise and encourage women’s role in the green transition.
    • Supporting women entrepreneurs: Gender-focused financial policies and products catering to the requirements of women entrepreneurs can spur their ability to enter the green transition market.
      • Collateral-free lending, financial literacy training and building supportive networks are crucial steps to unlock their potential. 
    • Leadership: Finally, bringing in more women into leadership positions to incorporate gender-specific needs in low-carbon development strategies can promote women’s integration in green jobs.

    Way Ahead:

    • The global transition towards a sustainable future is expected to drive significant growth in the green jobs sector. As environmental concerns become more prominent, demand for green skills and expertise is expected to rise.
    • A gender-just transition demands a multi-pronged strategy that focuses on employment, social protection, reduces the burden of care work, and enables skill development. 
    • Partnerships across government, private sector and other stakeholders are necessary to leverage the benefits of innovation, technology and finance for women entrepreneurs and workers.

    Source: TH