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GESI

In celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) 2024, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the South Asia Regional Energy Hub (SAREH) (joined forces with South Asia Women in Energy (SAWIE) to address the critical issue of gender equity in the energy sector. Their collaborative efforts culminated in a high-powered panel discussion titled “Together We Rise: South Asia Women Leading the Energy Future” held on March 8, 2024. SAREH (Hub) is the coordination and communication platform within the USAID’s South Asia Regional Energy Partnership (SAREP) Program.

Despite the energy sector’s critical role in economic growth and development, women remain vastly underrepresented, comprising only 3 to 15 percent of the workforce in South Asia. Persistent gender imbalances, rooted in patriarchal practices and entrenched stereotypes, hinder women’s advancement in leadership roles within the energy industry. Recognizing these challenges, the campaign aimed to address the pressing issues of gender equity and inclusivity within the South Asian energy sector, recognizing the pivotal role that women play in driving progress and innovation in the industry.

The panel discussion brought together prominent women leaders actively working in the South Asian energy sector, including Ms. Dawa Chhoedron, Chief Engineer, Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Bhutan; Ms. Jorifa Khatun, Director, System Planning, Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB); Ms. Ranju Pandey, Director, System Planning Department, Nepal Electricity Authority; Dr. Shailly Kedia, Senior Fellow & Associate Director, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). These trailblazing women shared invaluable insights and experiences, emphasizing the importance of implementing inclusive policies, challenging patriarchal perceptions and mindset, and supporting women’s progression to leadership roles. The panel underscored the significance of addressing systemic barriers and promoting gender equality to pave the way for a more equitable and inclusive energy sector. Key takeaways from the discussion included:

  • The significance of inclusive policies such as flexible work hours and robust support networks to enable women to balance professional and domestic responsibilities.
  • The need to challenge deep-rooted gender stereotypes that limit women’s access to employment in STEM fields and confine them to administrative roles.
  • Strategies to support women’s progression to leadership positions through increased access to mentorship and specialized training programs.
  • The importance of empowering women to lead the charge in the energy transition, drawing inspiration from successful grassroots micro-entrepreneurship models.
  • The need to qualify the difference between diversity & inclusivity in the context of advancing gender equity in the energy sector. While diversity can be achieved in a procedural sense, inclusivity demands intentional and substantive actions.

As part of the pre-event outreach strategy, the ‘Hub’ released a series of four engaging social media video clips featuring prominent South Asian women leaders in the energy sector, including Ms. Dawa Chhoedron, Chief Engineer, Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Bhutan; Ms. Gauri Jauhar, Executive Director, Energy Transition & Cleantech Consulting, S&P Global Commodity Insights; Dr. Preeti Jain, Head, Net Zero Transition Program at International Air Transport Association (IATA); Dr. Ritu Singh, Director General, Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL); Dr. Tripta Thakur, Director General, National Power Training Institute (NPTI).

IWD video campaign

These videos were published from the ‘Hub’ social media handles from March 4 to 7, 2024, centered around themes such as inclusivity, gender equity, and the role of men as allies, sparked meaningful conversations and raised awareness about the importance of diversity and inclusion within the energy industry.

The pre-event outreach efforts and the panel discussion underscored our collective commitment to advancing gender equity and inclusivity within the South Asian energy sector. By addressing systemic barriers, promoting collaboration, and advocating for supportive policies, we can ensure that women are empowered to be key players in driving the region’s energy future.

Agenda:

Session Recording:

March 14, 2024

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