Caribbean Women Are Making Waves in Clean Energy

Meet three women who are leading the clean energy transition through education, mentorship, and community.

Women have long been underrepresented in the energy sector. In the Caribbean, it often starts at a young age, with girls being discouraged from pursuing science, technology, and engineering. However, a group of passionate dedicated women are set on changing that. The Caribbean-based Women in Renewable Energy (WIRE) Network advocates for increased gender equality across the clean energy sector in government agencies, utilities, regulatory bodies, and the private sector to eventually increase women’s representation in C-suites and boards, through ensuring a pipeline of motivated and experienced women.

One way it does this is through its two-year mentorship program. Twelve women are selected each year and are paired with women in senior leadership positions for guidance in the clean energy sector and advisement on how to make the most of their professional opportunities.

The current WIRE Mentorship Program currently hosts 24 women across 14 nations in the Caribbean. Meet some of these amazing women below.

Indra Haraksingh — Pioneering Renewable Energy Education in the Caribbean

Indra Haraksingh is a visionary educator and a driving force behind the development of the Master of Science in Renewable Energy Technology (MScRET), a groundbreaking program at the University of West Indies in the Caribbean. Based in Trinidad and Tobago, Haraksingh supports the WIRE Network as a senior mentor to the current WIRE Mentorship cohort. She also serves as president of the Caribbean Solar Energy Society and lecturer in the Department of Physics at the university.

The MScRET initiative was born out of the pressing need to address high electricity rates and the environmental impact of fossil fuel dependency in the region. Haraksingh saw the immense potential of harnessing solar and other renewable resources prevalent in the Caribbean and recognized the critical role of education in driving this transition.

In collaboration with universities in Flensburg, Germany, Haraksingh spearheaded the creation of the MScRET to equip Caribbean nations with the knowledge and expertise necessary to embrace renewable energy solutions fully. "For countries to move in this direction, it is important that they are well informed and trained in the technology and use of renewable energy," she explains. The program has been instrumental in training a new generation of experts, with approximately 20 graduates annually over its ten-year history.

By training individuals across various sectors in renewable energy, the MScRET has helped to build a more self-reliant region, reducing the reliance on external experts. Haraksingh emphasizes the importance of mentorship and networks in shaping the future of these students. "Mentorship is crucial to building interest and confidence in students to pursue careers in renewable energy," she says. This dedication to mentorship prompted her to join the WIRE Network’s Mentorship Program. As a senior mentor she provides valuable insights and support to women across the cohort.

She also emphasizes the importance of building strong networks, noting, "Having a strong network is crucial to finding solutions." Her network with international organizations, universities, and experts has been instrumental in advancing her career and the field of renewable energy in the Caribbean.

Indra Haraksingh's work underscores the transformative power of education and collaboration in addressing pressing environmental challenges. Her efforts continue to inspire a new generation of leaders committed to building a sustainable future for the Caribbean and beyond. 

Sheena Gosine — Empowering Women in Energy

Sheena Gosine was hesitant to enter the energy industry as a woman. However, she is now the sustainable energy analyst at the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries in Trinidad and Tobago and an excellent example of the impact of mentorship and networking for women in the energy sector. She is the first woman to graduate with a distinction from the Master of Science in Renewable Energy Technology at the University of the West Indies, and is a proud participant in the WIRE mentorship program.

Gosine describes her journey through the WIRE program as a transformative experience. "As I continue to navigate the energy space and glean on experiences within the program, one word comes to mind: empowerment," she says. "The power of collaborating with like-minded women and gaining a true appreciation for my place in the energy space has been invaluable. Meeting these women, understanding their experiences from where they sit, was an eye-opening experience which I found indelible."

The importance of a network of women in the energy sector, Gosine shares, cannot be overstated. "As women, we continue to adopt a myriad of roles that men are not expected to, while navigating a male-dominated space," she notes. "The WIRE program represents a safe space for women to be themselves within the context of growth and support."

Gosine has learned a lot from the community of women she has met through WIRE, especially when seeking a Caribbean perspective on energy matters. "The WIRE group of women is always willing to support you in whichever way they can," she says. "This is definitely a professional edge I think we all possess as part of this group."

In addition to her participation in WIRE, Gosine has been mentored through a program in her workplace. "The power of mentorship must not be understated," she emphasizes. "Both programs have shown me the value of always being open to personal and professional growth and expanding horizons."

Through shared experiences in the WIRE program, Gosine shares that she has a deeper understanding of the collective goal, working toward gender equity in the Caribbean energy space. "I was able to gain new perspectives on my role as a female in the energy space, with a renewed understanding that I was not alone in facing certain adversity and challenges," she explains. "The mentorship experience has given me a renewed approach to my work portfolio notwithstanding any gender-specific issues I may face."

Sheena Gosine's journey is a testament to the power of mentorship and networking in empowering women in the energy sector. She encourages others to lean into community for growth and support, ultimately contributing to a more inclusive and diverse industry.

Niebert Blair — Driving Change in Caribbean E-Mobility

Niebert Blair is passionate about electrifying transportation and the delivery of goods. "The application of electricity in the process helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the very short to medium term," she shares, highlighting the immediate benefits of vehicle electrification.

As the energy and transport coordinator with GIZ, Blair plays a crucial role in shaping policies and strategies for sustainable energy in the Caribbean, particularly in countries like Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, and Saint Lucia. Her passion for this work stems from a deep recognition of how crucial the renewable energy transition is for the region. "My work is important, as well as the work of others, as we not only understand the benefits of the energy transition but as we together generate responses to the challenges faced in our sustainable energy development," she explains.

One of Blair's key achievements is advancing the implementation of the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) in the region. She is proud that several countries have identified and are willing to establish energy, transport, and e-mobility strategies and policies under this guidance. However, she acknowledges that more needs to be done to accelerate the pace of change required for a sustainable future. Blair shares, “In the Caribbean, there are a few donors and financing mechanisms that are targeting the transition, however the rate of change required is far from what is achieved.”

Despite the daunting goals, she is motivated to continue her work. “The drive and passion I have for the transition is embodied in my current work with GIZ in the region, where we are seeking to advance implementation of the NDCs and improve policies and regulations in the energy and transport sectors.” She is also proud to recognize that the impacts of her work can already be felt in the region.

Mentorship has played a significant role in Blair's career, particularly through programs like WIRE, which has connected her with a network of talented individuals in the region and globally. Beyond the value of personal mentorship, Blair shares the strength in building a network and learning from her community. “I have had the opportunity to meet men and women who work in similar and different disciplines and listen to their experiences and advice on chartering my professional development. I have learnt how people from various companies continue to be creative in their work spaces and these stories have definitely inspired me.”

Additionally, when reflecting on her experiences gained through the broader WIRE network, Blair reflects, "While I have been mentoring younger people before WIRE, the experiences and the people I have met have enhanced this process greatly.”

Blair's dedication to advancing sustainable energy solutions in the Caribbean is evident in her work: she is driving sustainable, equitable change throughout the region, and being cheered on by her WIRE community.

To learn more about the WIRE Network and how you can get involved, visit the website.