Women Changemakers Are Accelerating the Energy Transition in Belize
Four women from RMI’s Women in Renewable Energy Network are recognized as renewable energy leaders.
“We’re breaking the barriers both physically and mentally,” says Sheena Kuylen Simpson, a manager at the electric utility in Belize. Simpson is one of five women recently recognized as leaders and changemakers at the Women in Renewable Energy Achievement Recognition and Vision Launch Ceremony in Belize City. The ceremony was organized by the Belizean Ministry of Public Utilities, Energy, Logistics, and E-Governance with support from the Lait Up Belize, a European Union technical assistance project.
Four of the five women recognized at the ceremony are current members of RMI’s Women in Renewable Energy (WIRE) Mentorship Program. Additionally, WIRE was invited by Lait Up Belize to speak on the need for women-focused networks and professional development programming throughout the Caribbean.
Belize’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) includes an energy target of generating 75 percent electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and a net-zero target by 2050. In actively working toward these climate goals, the country has diversified its clean energy sources, and added additional focus to in-country generation with the support of programs like Lait Up Belize. The government of Belize has also recently undergone a greenhouse gas inventory in determining its national contributions.
Gender equity and inclusion have also become a priority for the sector in Belize; the WIRE women honored in the Women in Renewable Energy Achievement Recognition and Vision Launch acknowledge the crucial role networks and mentorship play in supporting female representation in the sector. “I’m at a place now where I try to informally play a mentorship role,” says Khara Roches Francois, an energy engineer and one of the WIRE women recognized. “I wouldn’t want women to encounter the challenges that I’ve encountered, but when they do, they have someone to put that battery in their back and tell them that they can do it.”
Below are interviews spotlighting the WIRE members recognized at the Women in Renewable Energy Achievement Recognition and Vision Launch Ceremony.
“Having the opportunity to be a part of a transformation within a household, or within a community… that’s very rewarding.” — Kayla Gabourel, Energy Officer at the Ministry of Public Utilities, Energy, Logistics & E-governance.
“You have to realize that anything is possible. You might have to take the barriers out of your head. We’re breaking the barriers both physically and mentally.” — Sheena Kuylen Simpson, Manager, Systems Planning & Engineering at the Belize Electricity Limited.
“What girls have access to and what they’re encouraged to study is really important. If I wasn’t encouraged as a young person to pursue my interests or solve problems with my hands, perhaps I wouldn’t be in this very interesting field that I’m in right now; one that is helpful to the government and helpful to the region.” — Brittany Meighan Rancharan, Environmental Engineer & Climate Change Expert.
“Energy really is the basis of all sectors and economic development… I knew I wanted to be part of meaningful work.” — Khara Roches Francois, Energy Engineer & Consultant.