Nadira Irdiana & Mayarani Nurul Islami - Mar 28 2024
In Indonesia, a Just Energy Transition Needs Women

In 2022, the Government of Indonesia committed to a just energy transition by launching the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) during the G20 Summit in Bali.

The JETP’s target is to achieve Net Zero Emissions in the power sector by 2050. But getting there will require a substantial workforce – one that can support a growing sector in the midst of a massive, green shift.

Involving women and marginalised groups in renewable energy is not only critical for growing that workforce, it’s critical to ensure equal distribution of access, opportunities, and benefits, enhancing women’s quality of life, boosting the chance of fair work and wages in the growing sector, and strengthening their agency and decision-making power both at the domestic and public levels.

So far, women's participation in the renewable energy sector in Indonesia is considerably lower than in other sectors.

Recent reports show that only 28% of women work in this sector across Southeast Asia as a whole. But at the household level, women play a major role in energy consumption and efficiency, such as energy use for cooking, electricity-saving, and water usage.

Integrating gender equality and inclusion in renewable energy programs or policymaking is becoming more important and relevant. In pursuit of the emission reduction target and ensuring gender equality and social inclusion, the British Embassy in Jakarta, in cooperation with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources launched MENTARI (Menuju Transisi Energi Rendah Karbon Indonesia / Toward the Transition of Low Carbon Energy Indonesia) to advance the growth of low-carbon energy in Indonesia.

By supporting the uptake of low-carbon energy, the program delivers inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction. Through demonstration and pilot projects, the team showcases the possibilities of low-carbon energy for Indonesia's economic development, job creation, and social inclusion while helping to mitigate climate and environmental impacts.

The program successfully delivered two small-scale solar microgrid energy pilots in eastern Indonesia and showcased a replicable, economically feasible business model that generates inclusive socio-economic benefits for communities and villages.

In Mata Redi and Mata Woga villages, Central Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara province where MENTARI had its solar microgrids demonstration project, most young women are steered towards becoming nurses, farmers, or teachers rather than carpenters or electricians.

To advance women’s involvement in renewable energy, MENTARI embeds gender and social inclusion into programs and ways of working. As of January 2024, the MENTARI program has maintained a 41% rate of women’s participation in project events, workshops, trainings, meetings, or sharing sessions.

Eliminating Barriers

To ensure that women are participating fully in MENTARI activities, inviting them is more than a matter of distributing invitations.
“MENTARI uses a door-to-door approach to ensure women participate in activities,” explains Rita Kefi, MENTARI Gender and Inclusion Field Officer. “Staff go to potential participants’ homes to let them know about the activities that will be conducted and motivate them to participate.” Despite initial perceptions that electricity was primarily a domain for men, Kefi and her team actively engage with the women to answer their questions and address their hesitations.

Once onboard, women receive occupational safety, health, and environment training to ensure their safety overall. For two young women, this was the catalyst to becoming certified Solar Photovoltaic operators. They have since helped provide electricity maintenance for neighbours, marking a significant shift in the stereotype of who works in renewable energy and electric work.

When planning, the team also takes into account the timing for trainings. Women may have to be at home at particular times, so the MENTARI team coordinates with participants on the timing of training and utilise the GALS (Gender Action Learning for Sustainability) training tool to improve participation from women, including illiterate women, in gender justice and sustainable renewable energy activities, businesses, and trends.

GALS is an effective method for participants with low levels of education as it uses visuals to convey gender and inclusion messages. To foster a nurturing conducive space for women to engage fully, MENTARI provided a designated play corner for children, staffed by an instructor who was hired collaboratively by MENTARI and Village Government. This thoughtful approach has led to a 50.5% participation rate of women in the village in all GALS training sessions.

These efforts have significantly boosted women’s participation rate in what was male-dominated renewable energy projects and at the same time, improved the overall sustainability of the initiative. However, challenges remain in some formal settings such as in government meetings, where local governments and ministries may still have more men than women representatives at certain levels.

The shift towards a more gender inclusive government won’t happen overnight but MENTARI’s work in the renewable energy sector is playing a critical role in ensuring that shift does occur, because a just transition will bring everyone along for the ride, no matter their gender.

For more information and to see various case studies from the MENTARI program, visit the website