Lebanon: 13 Women Prove They Are Better Than Men in Solar Energy

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calendar February 03, 2023 calendar Educational calendar Admin

Every day at 8 a.m., a group of 13 young women clamber up a ladder onto the roof of a large grey shed to get to work under the morning sun. They are Lebanon’s first all-female solar team, training to install panels that will power a waste-sorting facility in the rocky hills above Lake Qaraoun, in the West Bekaa Valley.

“We are doing something people think women can’t do,” 23-year-old Raja told The Daily Star. “They think only men can climb up on the roof and do something like this.”

For six hours a day, five days a week, the team supported by local NGO Renewable Innovation for Sustainability and Environment (RISE 2030) study and practice how to fit together and position solar panels that, once switched on, will mean the waste sorting plant will run solely on renewable energy.

“This facility is a model for a totally sustainable facility,” said Ryme Assad, RISE 2030’s executive director.

The waste sorting facility, which receives waste from six local municipalities, will soon run on 100 percent sustainable energy, explained Nader Shehadeh, the project’s technical consultant.

Paper, plastic, cans and aluminium are manually removed and sorted from a conveyor belt running through the shed and compressed into large cube-shaped bales, which are then sold on to recycling facilities.

The project is run by RISE 2020 with the support of the German government, the Social Affairs Ministry and the Federation of Bouhayra Municipalities.

Twenty-five out of more than 100 applicants were selected to take part in the project based on character, need, experience and even whether they had a fear of heights, explained Assaad.

Initially, the 12 men and 13 women accepted onto the project were put together in one group. However, “the women weren’t interacting very well and the men were taking charge,” Assaad said.

Based on conversations with the women themselves and consultations with relevant NGOs, RISE 2030 decided to create a women-only team of trainees.

Not only were the women more comfortable working on their own, Assaad said, but once they learned that they were female “pioneers” in the field, they became even more motivated.