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WEPOWER: Why South Asia needs more women in its energy sector

Tehreem Saifey's picture
The World Bank Team, WePOWER Strategic and Institutional Partners (SIPs) and Nepal High School Female Students, Closing Session, Feb 21, 2019.
The World Bank team, WePOWER strategic and institutional partners, and high school female students from Nepal gathered at the closing session of the Women in Power Sector Network in South Asia (WePOWER), Feb 21, 2019. Photo: World Bank

“There is power in not being alone,”  
Demetrios Papathanasiou - Practice Manager, South Asia Energy Unit at The World Bank

The number of women working in the energy and power sector in South Asia is dismally low.

Across the region, women employees represent only 3 percent to 15 percent of energy sector staff.

As for women engineers and technicians, the proportion is even lower: less than 1 to 6 percent.

To promote opportunities for women in the power and energy sectors, especially in technical roles, the World Bank and its partners recently organized the first regional conference for Women in Power Sector Network in South Asia (WePOWER).

Held in Kathmandu Nepal, the event convened more than 250 engineers and energy-sector professionals from all over South Asia and provided networking and learning opportunities to women and girls.

It’s well established that role models and networks can help overcome stereotypes and biases that contribute to the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields.

A recent study found that investing in peer networks and building up proteges as two of the six things successful women in STEM have in common.
 
From a personal point of view, I have learned something powerful during the event: When strong and smart women work together and are supported by men who value women’s engagement as equals, let alone in the engineering or energy sectors, something magical happens.

South Asia can get more women to work

Hiska Reyes's picture
 World Bank
South Asian countries are making progress in clearing the way for women to get jobs and creating a safer work environment for them. Yet, too many women across South Asia are left out of the workforce—and that despite booming economic growth. Credit: World Bank

This blog is part of a series examining women’s economic empowerment in South Asia. Starting today on International Women's Day and over the next few weeks, we will be exploring successful interventions, research, and experience to improve gender equality across the region. 

Meet Fazeela Dharmaratne from Sri Lanka.
 
Her story, like that of millions of other women in South Asia, is one of struggle between family and work and a story worth telling as we mark International Women’s Day.
 
Unlike too many of her female peers, Fazeela was able to reinvent herself professionally.
 
As a young woman, straight out of school, she joined a bank in Colombo as a banking assistant. In 17 years, she climbed up the corporate ladder to become regional manager—a position she later quit to care for her children.
 
Unfazed, Fazeela started her own small home-based daycare business in 2012, initially serving only 4-5 children. Today, Fazeela is the director of the CeeBees pre-school and childcare centers serving several corporate clients in Colombo.
 
Fazeela’s success belies the fact that across South Asia too many women are left out of the workforce—and that despite booming economic growth.
 
And while employment rates have gone down across the region, women account for most of this decline.
 
Between 2005 and 2015, women’s employment declined by 5 percent a year in India, 3 percent a year in Bhutan, and 1 percent a year in Sri Lanka.
 
These numbers are worrying because a drop in female employment has important social costs.
 
First, when women control a greater share of household incomes, children are healthier and do better in school.
 
Second, when women work for pay, they have a greater voice in their households, in their communities, and society.
 
Conversely, the economic gains from women participating equally in the labor market are sizable.
 
A recent study by the International Monetary Fund estimated that closing gender gaps in employment and entrepreneurship in South Asia would help grow the economy by about 25 percent. 
 
The good news is that South Asian countries are making progress in clearing the way for women to get jobs and creating a safer work environment for them.  

Applauding the women leaders in South Asia

Hartwig Schafer's picture

I just ended my first round of country visits as the World Bank’s Vice President for the South Asia Region.  Over and above all, I have been immensely impressed by the resilience, determination, commitment and innovation of the women leaders that I had the privilege to meet during my visits.

These women are succeeding in a region where it is hard for women to realize their career dreams. In South Asia, only 28 percent of women ages 15+ are employed, compared to 48 percent worldwide.

What better opportunity than International Women’s Day to give a huge shout-out and applaud those women who are role models, entrepreneurs, and leaders in the eight countries of South Asia.

Neha Sharma, the district magistrate in Baghai village and Hart Schafer in India
Baghai village in Firozabad district, Uttar Pradesh, India. Photo: World Bank

How has Citizens’ Charter brought positive change in Jalalabad, Afghanistan?

Akram Sajid's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
 Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank
Residents discussing their community development projects in a Community Development Council meeting in Jalalabad city. Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank
The Citizens’ Charter Afghanistan Project (Citizens’ Charter) is a national program to provide every village and city in Afghanistan with basic services, such as water, roads, and electricity—based on decisions made by the community.
 
When we first started activities in Jalalabad city, the capital of the eastern province of Nangarhar, people were not familiar with community driven programs in urban areas; and there was no tradition of cooperation among different members of the community to jointly solve issues. Their relations with local government, especially the municipality, were weak since it could not address many of their basic needs, like access to clean drinking water.
 
As the Citizens’ Charter Communication and Outreach Officer in Jalalabad, I initially felt that community members were not feeling empowered and, therefore, didn’t see the value of working together to increase the prosperity of their community.
 
Before the project started in 2017, there were no organized councils that people could turn to, to address their shared problems. Shir Mohammad, a resident from Jalalabad’s District 5, told me: “It was so hard to gather people to discuss an issue in the area.
 

چگونه برنامه ملی میثاق شهروندی سبب تغییرات مثبت در شهر جلال گردیده است؟

Akram Sajid's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
 
باشندگان شهر جلال آباد هنگام بحث روی پروژه های انکشافی محلی در جلسه شورای انکشافی. عکس: شرکت مشورتی رومی/ بانک جهانی

د ولسي تړون پروګرام په جلال آباد ښار کې څرنګه د مثبت بدلون لامل ګرزیدلی؟

Akram Sajid's picture
Also available in: English | دری
 
د جلال آباد ښار اوسیدونکې د پراختیایی شورا په یوه ناسته کې د خپل سیمې پراختیایی پروژو باندې د خبرې په حال: انځور: رومی شرکت/ نړیوال بانک

How South Asia can become a free trade area

Sanjay Kathuria's picture
Women knit handicrafts for export at Everest Fashion Fair Craft in Lalitpur, Nepal
Women knit handicrafts for export at Everest Fashion Fair Craft in Lalitpur, Nepal. Photo: Peter Kapuscinski / World Bank

The South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement has been in effect since 2006—with little success.

This is in sharp contrast to the ASEAN free trade area (AFTA), which started in 1992 with six six countries and later added more members, completing the ASEAN ten by 1999.

Between 1992 and 2017, intraregional imports as a share of global imports in ASEAN increased from 17 to 24 percent, and exports from 21 to 27 percent.

In South Asia, these shares were largely stagnant since SAFTA came into effect, at 3 percent for intraregional imports and 6-7 percent for intraregional exports.

In fact, intraregional trade in South Asia has been the lowest among world regions for quite some time, hovering around 5 percent of its overall trade with the world.

The rising cost of nutritious food in South Asia

Felipe F. Dizon's picture
 World Bank
A malnourished child will face poorer outcomes as an adult. In South Asia, where malnutrition persists in multiple forms, improving nutrition in the early stages of life is critical to a child's future development and health. Credit: World Bank

A malnourished child will face poorer outcomes as an adult.
 
That’s why improving nutrition, especially in the early stages of life, is critical.
 
The path toward better nutrition includes adequate maternal and child care, access to better sanitation facilities, health services, and naturally, nutritious foods.
 
But whether an individual consumes—or not—nutritious food is contingent upon a myriad of factors, ranging from the availability of certain foods, how convenient they can be turned into meals, or simply, if they meet consumers’ tastes.
 
But above all, the high cost of food remains the most critical barrier to proper nutrition and affects the poor more than the rich.
 
And in South Asia, where malnutrition persists in multiple forms, the cost of nutritious food is prohibitive.

ایجاد صلح و ثبات در افغانستان از صنف درسی شروع می شود

Mohammad Ibrahim Shinwari's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
Education is the bedrock for peace and a more resilient and self-sufficient Afghanistan
شاگردان یکی از مکاتب ابتداییه در ولایت پنجشیر. امتیاز عکس: شرکت مشورتی رومی/ بانک جهانی

امروز ۲۴ ماه جنوری مصادف به روز بین المللی معارف میباشد. این در حالیست که در ماه دسمبر سال ۲۰۱۷ میلادی مجمع عمومی سازمان ملل متحد این روز را بمنظور ارج گذاری به نقش محوری و اساسی تعلیم وتربیه در راستای تامین صلح و انکشاف پایدار مسمی نموده و قرار است منبعد از این روز همه ساله بعنوان روز جهانی معارف تجلیل بعمل اید.

هدف از تجلیل این روز جهانی نه تنها جلب توجه به معارف به عنوان یکی از اهداف کلیدی اهداف انکشاف پایدار ۲۰۳۰ سازمان ملل متحد میباشد، بلکه بر نقش کلیدی تعلیم و تربیه در راستای فقرزدایی، افزایش دسترسی به خدمات صحی، گسترش و نهادینه سازی تساوی جنسیت، تامین و تحکیم صلح در سراسر جهان نیز تاکید میورزد.

بدون شک اموزش یگانه راه ایجاد نیروی بشری مورد نیاز برای رشد پایدار در دراز مدت پنداشته میشود.

اختصاص دادن یک روز به عنوان روز جهانی معارف، اراده و عزم جامعه بین المللی را مبنی بر حمایت همه جانبه از دسترسی عادلانه همه ای مردم به تعلیم و اموزش با کیفیت را نشان میدهد.

منحیث معین وزارت معارف افغانستان، خوشحالم که معارف امروز درصدر اجندای جامعه جهانی قرار گرفته زیرا تعلیم و تربیه در تامین صلح و ثبات نقش خیلی مهم و ارزنده دارد.

در حالیکه افغانستان با چالش های ناشی از چندین دهه جنگ روبرو است، تاکید بر اهمیت نقش تعلیم وتربیه در راستای تامین و تحکیم پایدار صلح و ثبات در این کشور بسیار مهم و حیاتی است.

 برای ما، معارف به معنای بنیاد یک افغانستان صلح آمیز، خودکفا و مترقی میباشد.

په افغانستان کې سوله او ثبات راوستل له درسي ټولګيو پیلېږي

Mohammad Ibrahim Shinwari's picture
Also available in: English | دری
Education is the bedrock for peace and a more resilient and self-sufficient Afghanistan
د پنجشیر ولایت د یوه ابتدایه ښونځۍ زده کونکې. د انځور امتیاز: د رومی شرکت/ نړیوال بانک

نن، د جنورۍ مياشتې ۲۴مه د پوهنې نړيواله ورځ ده. د سولې په راوستو او دوامداره پرمختیا کې د ښوونې او روزنې اساسي او رغنده رول ته د درناوي له پاره د ملګرو ملتونو سازمان د ۲۰۱۷ زېږديز کال په ډسمبر مياشت کې دغه ورځ [د جنورۍ ۲۴مه] د پوهنې د نړيوالې ورځې په نامه ونوموله او ټاکل شوې ده، چې تر دې وروسته به هر کال دا ورځ د پوهنې نړیوالې ورځې په نامه لمانځل کېږي.

د دغې نړيوالې ورځې له لمانځلو هدف نه یوازې دا دی، چې پوهنې ته، چې د ملګرو ملتونو د ۲۰۳۰زېږديز کال د دوامداره پراختیا مهم هدف بلل کېږي، پام راجلب شي، بلکي د بې وزلۍ پر کمښت، روغتيايي خدمتونو ته د لاسرسۍ پر زیاتوالی، د جنسیتي برابرۍ پر زیاتوالی  او عامولو، په ټولې نړۍ کې د سولې پر تامينولو او ټينګښت کې هم د ښوونې او روزنې اساسي په رول باندې ټينګار کوي.

له شک پرته زده کړه یوازينۍ لاره ده، چې په اوږدمهال کې د دوامدارې پرمختیا لپاره د اړتیا وړ بشري قوه تامينولی شي.

د پوهنې نړيوالې ورځې په نامه د یوې ورځې نومول، د نړيوالې ټولنې ټينګه اراده او ژمنه څرګندوي، چې تعلیم او زده کړې ته د ټولو خلکو د مساوي او باکیفیته لاسرسي په پار يې ملاتړ کوي.

د افغانستان د پوهنې وزارت د معين په توګه، خوښ یم چې نړيوالې ټولنې پوهنه د خپلې اجنډا په سر کې راوستې ده، ځکه ښوونه او روزنه د سولې او ثبات په ټينګښت کې رغنده رول لري.

په داسې یو حالت کې چې افغانستان د څو لسیزو راهیسې د جګړو له ګواښونو سره لاس او ګريوان دی، د دوامدارې سولې په راوستو او د ثبات په ټينګښت کې د ښوونې او روزنې پر رول تينګار کول حياتي موضوع بلل کېږي.

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