Bright Futures: Nicaraguan Women in Solar: Part 2

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December 14, 2021

In 2021, GRID launched a 5-week hands-on solar installation training program for women in Nicaragua called Installation Basics Training (IBT). Sixteen women graduated from the program in 2021 and seven have already been hired in the local solar industry. The training program is unique for its focus on women in technical roles and for the breadth and depth of materials covered from electricity basics, job readiness, safety, tools, and solar installation techniques. We asked recent graduates a few questions about solar energy and their experiences as GRID job trainees.  Below are the answers from 3 of our trainees from this past year. En español aquí.

Portrait of Valentina Silva, Nicaraguan IBT trainee, working at a main service panel
Valentina Silva

What was the first thing that sparked your interest in solar energy?

Knowing that it is a clean energy alternative and also an area with a lot of potential in Nicaragua due to the climatic conditions of the country. Nevertheless it is an incipient technology, despite having an exponential growth in certain sectors. On the other hand, it is a profitable alternative to energize rural areas where there is no access to the electricity grid.

What was your favorite part of the GRID Alternatives training? 
The weeks of installation, since I was able to consolidate the knowledge obtained theoretically in addition to developing new skills and working as a team with my colleagues who gave me the opportunity to reinforce the areas where I had weaknesses.

What would you like to tell other women about working in solar energy?
Many times it is classified as a job for men, but it really is not, and I admire all those people who have been breaking those social paradigms. They have shown us that as women we are capable and we can do efficient work in solar energy and that we are always going beyond. We are now empowered women who can develop clean energy projects that benefit our communities, schools and environments with the vision of improving our quality of life.

What excites you about the future?
The acceptance that clean energy is having as more and more people are becoming aware of the environment and opting for the use of photovoltaic energy and especially the role that Nicaraguan women are playing within this industry.

What is your favorite song, book, movie or phrase?
The nights- Avicci "One day you'll leave this world behind So live a life you will remember"


Portrait of Katherine Valeria Reyes Olivera, Nicaraguan IBT trainee, working with electrical wires
Katherine Valeria Reyes Olivera

What was the first thing that sparked your interest in solar energy?
I find it very interesting how we can take advantage of solar radiation to generate energy, in addition to how we can make the change as women in the solar industry and the environmental change that we can leave by becoming more informed about the use of solar energy and thus promoting the use of renewable energy. The change is in our hands!

What was your favorite part of the GRID Alternatives training? 
My favorite part of the training was acquiring new knowledge in the area of ​​solar water pumping, I found the operation of the pumps super interesting and how we can play with voltages and amperages to make the system work. In addition to interacting with my colleagues and instructors and learning something new from each one of them.

What would you like to tell other women about working in solar energy?
First of all, I think it is important to mention that we live in a society that is “machista” where women are told it is bad to work in these careers, but I would tell her to go ahead, that she can do it. We are capable of changing the world and if men can do it we can too. It is time to stop underestimating ourselves and unveil our potential. Working in solar energy is very fulfilling, it opens our minds and many doors to continue to grow in the ​​renewable energy industry.

What excites you about the future?
I am very excited to believe that I can contribute a grain of sand to make the change and to have a good future. I know that I have to make an effort and continue studying in this area, because I really like it and my goal is to launch my career in solar energy.

What is your favorite song, book, movie or phrase ?
My favorite book is called "love letter to the dead" it talks about a girl who unfortunately lost her sister and one of her tasks at school is to write a letter to someone who is no longer there and write something she always wanted to say to her. So she started writing to some of her sister's favorite artists, who had already died. I identify with her, because like her I don’t express myself in public, but I am very good at expressing what I feel when I write a letter or a nice message.


Portrait of Arasí Torres, Nicaraguan IBT trainee, working on a solar panel
Arasí Torres

What was the first thing that sparked your interest in solar energy?
The simple fact that it is clean energy that presents the alternative for the consumption and depletion of fossil fuels. It seems to me that it is very important that more and more awareness is raised regarding renewable energies and solar energy seems to me to be an efficient solution.

What was your favorite part of the GRID Alternatives training? ·
I loved the whole experience. Learning to use tools was something new for me, now I feel confident to handle them very safely. I can honestly say that I fell in love with using tools.

What would you like to tell other women about working in solar energy?
I am sure that they are going to love the experience, that they do not know what they are missing and that they will not regret taking the initiative. It is an experience that is very motivating.

What excites you about the future?
I am excited to be an agent of change to help the well-being of living beings and it all starts with initiatives like this one. It makes me happy to know that I am making decisions that can lead me to this career path.

What is your favorite song, book, movie or phrase?
There is a song called Eyes Wide Open by Gotye that has a phrase that says "We walk the plank with our eyes wide open" which in Spanish means "Caminamos la tabla con los ojos bien abiertos." This helps us understand that even knowing that we are going to fall off the cliff we continue walking towards it, referring to all the environmental pollution and little awareness regarding the need to generate changes in mentality.