As the world transitions to an increasingly technological economy, many low- and middle-income countries are lacking qualified people to fill critical positions in technological fields.
Let’s be honest, most young ladies don’t typically say, “When I grow up, I want to fix fridges and air conditioners”. So, where do we find these women and how do we get them interested in the RAC sector? Believe me, they are out there working in other professions. You just will never know when you will run into a woman who has the requisite skills, drive, desire or ability to become your RAC technician. Strengthening women’s participation in the RAC sector is important for three reasons.
- Increasing employment opportunities for women enhances gender equality, which is fundamental to human rights and dignity;
- Empowering women leads to benefits for their children and communities;
- Bridging the gender gap in RAC jobs can help address the mismatch between the supply and demand for jobs in emerging countries.
We still have to deal with many challenges to integrate women equally into the RAC sector. In many countries, girls face cultural pressures and stereotypes that discourage them from developing the skills needed to join the technology field. Hierarchies and traditional patterns are further barriers.
International institutions, governments, and NGOs, as well as companies and foundations, should work together to address the multiple barriers women and girls face, particularly in low- and middle-income countries whose economies can benefit the most from greater inclusion of women in the technological labor force.
This requires a shift in policy, priorities and existing funding to ensure that economic development and education investments in the technical, vocational, education and training sector can better integrate women and girls in tech fields such as the RAC sector labor force. The creation of an inviting culture for girls and women in the RAC sector is essential.
Government and development partners should integrate mentoring and support networks for girls and women into education and employment programs. Mentoring and peer networks can provide support and combat isolation. The integration of RAC into the curricula of vocational and technical schools also helps to inspire women to engage in these professions. Finally, partnerships with local schools could be established and teachers should promote this career opportunity.
These are only a few examples of how empowerment of women can work in the RAC sector. The most important thing is the will to start. There are many girls and women out there who would like to work in a technical job - you just have to encourage them!”
By Abena Amponsaa Baafi, former GIZ Proklima, Ghana