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Gender

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.  

Sri Lanka’s women want to work—and thrive in the workplace

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture
A woman hand painting fabric in a local Batik fabric factory
A Sri Lankan woman is hand painting fabric in a local Batik fabric factory. Matale, Sri Lanka. Credit: Shutterstock. January 3, 2017.

It’s International Women’s Day today, and there is a lot to celebrate in Sri Lanka and beyond.

Being a woman, mother, sister, aunt – name it, it’s something women wake up to daily and they love it.  None of them question about being enumerated for these roles.  We marvel and revel in the roles. 

But make no mistake. Women are also very capable breadwinners, contributors to the economies, innovators and entrepreneurs amongst many other roles.

Women want to work, and they want to stay in the workplace. 

What they seek is balance: a gender-balanced workplace, a gender-balanced management, and more gender-balance in sharing wealth and prosperity. 

In that sense, it’s heartening to see some of the proposals put forth in the government of Sri Lanka’s budget: more daycare centers, flexible work hours, and incentives to promote maternity leave. 

These are very welcome changes to think equal, build smart, innovate for change—the 2019 International Women's Day campaign theme—and we encourage those with jobs to implement these policy changes. 

This year, let me share with you a quick analysis of five laws that Sri Lankan women and their advocates have identified as constraining for joining the workforce and staying there! 

Skilling up Bangladeshi women

Tashmina Rahman's picture
Learning new skills for better jobs in Bangladesh: Meet Kamrul Nahar Omi


The Bangladesh garments industry is poised to grow into a $50 billion industry by 2021 and for this, two million semi-skilled workers are needed.

Non-garment industries such as leather, furniture, hospitality and Information & Technology (IT) are also poised to grow.

But how can we think equal, build smart, innovate for change, the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day? 

Female participation in the workforce has been increasing but remains less than half of male participation rates across primary working ages.

Of those females joining work, over 80 percent are engaged in low-skilled, low-productivity jobs in the informal sector with little opportunity for career progression.

Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is one important medium to equip women with employable skills and improve their job market participation.  

Overcoming the perception of TVET as ‘male-dominated’ training, women’s participation in technical programs has been steadily rising over the past decade.

Yet, Bangladesh still has a long way to go with female share in enrollments around 25 percent in TVET programs.

In fact, a World Bank study identifies some keys areas of intervention for improving female participation in technical diploma programs:

  1. creating a gender-friendly environment in polytechnics and workplaces;
  2. developing more service-orientated diploma programs;
  3. developing a TVET awareness campaign for females;
  4. (supporting a career counseling and guidance system for females;
  5. improving access to higher education;
  6. providing demand-stimulating incentives; (vii) generating research and knowledge;
  7. leveraging partnerships to promote opportunities for females and
  8. generating more and better data to track progress and inform policy and operations for female-friendly TVET. 

How to succeed as Sri Lanka’s top woman entrepreneur: Honesty, hard work, and perseverance

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture
This International Women’s Day I chose to have a conversation with a lady who is recognized as the leading Sri Lankan woman entrepreneur, Mrs. Aban Pestonjee.  

Her story is an inspiration to youth (male and female) and women who are afraid of failure and taking risks.

Starting from a modest home-based business, 50 years ago, today Aban is a household brand name that is island wide in Sri Lanka.

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

Expand exports to resolve the South Asian paradox

Hartwig Schafer's picture
South Asia has grown strongly to reduce poverty and create jobs, but the region remains a development paradox


South Asia has grown strongly to reduce poverty and create jobs, but the region remains a development paradox: Despite strong growth job creation remains weak and is often of poor quality.

Sri Lanka grew at an average rate of 5.8 percent from 2010-2017 but the growth of new job opportunities is below what many had hoped for. Most Sri Lankans still lack a regular job in the formal economy, and huge differences in pay among workers exist.

Meanwhile, trade in goods as a share of the economy is much lower than in other regions. The trends in Sri Lanka and much of South Asia differ from other regions, where trade, growth and jobs are directly connected and go hand in hand. This South Asian paradox raises the question of how governments can boost job growth, and how to raise the quality of new jobs so that economic development brings more shared prosperity.

A new report by the World Bank and the International Labour Organization (ILO) finds that increasing exports has the potential to contribute to a broader strategy for promoting growth, job creation and shared prosperity.

Titled “Exports to Jobs: Realizing the Gains from Trade,” the report shows how higher exports can translate into benefits for workers across the country, and it therefore recommends policies to expand exports together with policies that help sharing these benefits more widely, for example through measures that help workers get the skills needed to compete for new formal-sector jobs.

In Bangladesh, nutrition trainers inspire healthy habits

Snigdha Ali's picture
A group watches videos that raise awareness about nutrition and hygiene in the Rangamati district of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh.
A group watches videos that raise awareness about nutrition and hygiene in the Rangamati district of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh. Photo Credit: ASHIKA Development Associates

It was very early in the morning when the call came.  Minoti Chakma was in labor, and her husband knew something was not right.

She had been in pain for a while. The midwife and the family elderlies were trying to help her deliver the baby, a common practice in that remote indigenous community in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh.

But nothing seemed to be working, and Minoti’s husband grew worried.

So, he decided to seek help from a person known locally as the ‘nutrition trainer.

The trainer he met is part of a larger team of twenty-two who raises awareness about nutrition and hygiene among indigenous communities in the Banderban and Rangamati districts.

With support from the South Asia Food and Nutrition Security Initiative (SAFANSI), the nutrition trainers visit families in selected villages, gather women and men into groups, and show them instructional videos.

These low-cost videos introduce communities to best practices in nutrition and health—and challenge long-held social and cultural norms. An open discussion usually follows the projection.

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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