1st “Women Energize Women” Conference – Spotlighting the role of female experts in shaping the energy transition

On May 12, 2022 the 1stWomen Energize Women” (WEW) Conference took place in Munich within the context of The Smarter E – Europe’s leading platform for the energy industry. More than 250 energy experts from over 50 countries participated in discussion rounds, workshops and other formats on urgent energy and gender issues – looking at them from a female perspective. The conference is a highlight of the “Women Energize Women” communication campaign that has been implemented by GIZ in collaboration with the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE) within the framework of the Bilateral Energy Partnerships (EP) and on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). The conference, as the first of its kind to provide a stage exclusively for female energy experts, sent an important signal to the male-dominated energy sector.

The fact that women are underrepresented in the energy sector is shown in a study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) revealing a share of only 22% women working in the traditional energy sector and 32% women in renewables. Female perspectives are not only crucial in order to shape the energy transition in a way that meets the needs of society as a whole: Studies show that a higher share of women, also in leadership positions, improves innovativeness and collaboration at the workplace and increases the economic performance and sustainability of the company. Globally, the number of jobs in the renewable energy sector is estimated to more than triple by 2050. For the energy transitions to be scaled up and accelerated as required to meet agreed climate goals, sustainable energy needs to harness talent in all its forms and foster innovation across a vast array of skills, applications and specializations. The empowerment of female experts, thus, is the answer to the talent shortage in the sustainable energy sector.

The conference was opened by three inspiring women: Ellen von Zitzewitz, Deputy Director Climate and Energy Cooperation (BMWK), GIZ Managing Director Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven and Dr Simone Peter, President of BEE. “The energy sector is still mistakenly considered to be a male domain. This ignores the impressive contributions that women around the globe make already as drivers of innovation and technical experts”, Mrs. Hoven stressed the importance of the topic. A diverse number of high-level change makers and sector experts ensured exciting panel discussions on topics such as the efficiency and scalability of green hydrogen, pressing energy transition issues, and women's access to finance and education.

During a “marketplace of ideas” thirteen initiatives for female empowerment in the energy sector pitched their concepts to enable networking and exchange. Furthermore, a workshop gave valuable advice on how to advance female entrepreneurs through fundraising and a motivational speech stressed the positive outcomes of female representation in energy politics. Many delegations from the energy partnership countries, consisting among others of the participants of the “Women Energize Women” media fellowship, the mentees of the “Energising Women to Advance the Energy Transition” programme and women’s energy networks’ representatives organized in cooperation with the Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition (GWNET) had the chance to enjoy a rich accompanying program.

Shorouq Abdel-Ghani, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources Jordan (left), and Moderator Geraldine de Bastion (right) on the Opening Panel about building a global hydrogen economy © Women Energize Women Conference 2022 / @ Nadine Stegemann

Enabling fruitful connections was only one of many big achievements of the conference © Women Energize Women Conference 2022 / @ Nadine Stegemann

Panelist Bärbel Höhn, Special Representative for Energy in Africa for the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), during a lively exchange with fellow energy experts © Women Energize Women Conference 2022 / @ Nadine Stegemann

Chilean Representatives

On behalf of the Chilean Ministry of Energy, and with the support of the Chile-Germany Energy Partnership, Cabinet Advisor Javiera Ketterer travelled to the conference. Ketterer valued this type of international meetings, detailing that many of the countries have similar problems and it was valuable to address them together. "This is an instance of leadership and mentoring to enhance the professional development of women. I am grateful to have the opportunity to see that many of us are in a similar situation, that we have the same apprehensions and are experiencing personal challenges in the same way," she said.

During her visit, Ketterer shared information about the program Energía+Mujer, and had the opportunity to learn what other groups around the world are doing: "I have been able to meet different women from the energy sector in other countries who are leading these issues, some with very different experiences to mine, which enriches the way we can implement them in Chile", stated the engineer.

Elia Jaqueline Simeone Ruiz, Editor-in-Chief of the Chronicle for the Chilean newspaper "La Prensa Austral", also participated in the event and the "Media Fellowship" programme. In 2015, the regional government of the Region of Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica had recognised her in the category Women and Media, for the contribution of her magazine FEM to gender equality. Find her reporting here:

“Chile va a ser un socio importante de Alemania en el desarrollo de la industria del hidrógeno verde” | La Prensa Austral

Industria de hidrógeno verde requiere vincularse con la comunidad y regulaciones claras para reducir el potencial impacto sobre el medioambiente | La Prensa Austral

Most importantly, the event provided a platform for committed female change-makers and energy enthusiasts, visionaries, journalists and opinion leaders to learn from and inspire each other. Through community and capacity building, the conference successfully connected women and encouraged female experts to collaborate on advancing a just energy transition. The „Women Energize Women“ conference made it clear: Gender equality and especially women’s empowerment are key determinants for advancing a (just) global energy transition, setting a solid basis for more formats like this in the years to come.

About “Women Energize Women”:
The “Women Energize Women” conference is part of the “Women Energize Women” communication initiative, which was launched in November 2021 – to empower, motivate, inform, inspire and connect women in the energy sector from across the world offering interactive events and inspiring role, making female voices in the energy sector heard. It has already reached more than 1.7 million people via Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.

Relevant Links:
Women Energize Women Website
Women Energize Women on Twitter

Women Energize Women on LinkedIn
Women Energize Women on Instagram
Women Energize Women on YouTube
Bilateral Energy Partnerships (giz.de)

Women for Sustainable Energy – Strategies to Foster Women’s Talent for Transformational Change – GWNET (globalwomennet.org)

(Article by Hanna Ahrenberg & Lea Schiller)