Energy plays a vital role in poverty eradication, economic growth and sustainable infrastructure development of any country. Development in this sector is still mostly treated as gender-neutral, based on the assumption that energy impacts men and women in similar ways - leading to gender-blind initiatives. However, women and men often have distinct variation in relation to energy production and usage patterns. Hence, whenever we talk about promoting responsible use of energy at a national scale – it is vitally important to look at the issue through a gendered lens.
This was the theme explored by the webinar organized on 10 March 2021, titled “Role of Women in Building an Energy Conscious Society” as part of GIZ’s Gender Week. The webinar was jointly organized by Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Programme (REEEP II), with their Government Counterpart Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA).
Ms. Salima Jahan, Member (Renewable Energy) of SREDA, started the webinar through a welcome speech. This was followed by the keynote speech – presented by Ms. Christine Lins, Executive Director, Global Women's Network for Energy Transition (GWNET). Titled “Energising women to advance the energy transition” – her presentation highlighted local opportunities for Bangladesh in light of global statistics and experience.
A lively webinar followed the keynote presentation. The panellists were from diverse backgrounds - Ms. Farzana Mamtaz, Member (Energy Efficiency and Conservation), SREDA, Ms. Tanuja Bhattacharjee, Energy Specialist, The World Bank and Ms. Asma Huque, Managing Director, Prokousholi Sangshad Limited. The lively discussion was moderated by Mr. Mudabbir Anam, Programme Coordinator of REEEP II and covered questions related to engaging more women in sustainable power sector development, role of clean energy in women’s empowerment, and making policy documents in Bangladesh more gender sensitive.
Dr. Angelika Fleddermann, Country Director of GIZ Bangladesh was present as a Special Guest and highlighted the importance of skill development for women to allow more and more capacitated women to enter the energy industry.
Special Guest Mr. Md. Habibur Rahman, Secretary, Power Division mentioned that women’s economic empowerment in the clean energy sector would be vital in ensuring Bangladesh’s resilience and self-reliance in the post-Covid era.
Ms. Zuena Aziz, Principal Coordinator (SDG Affairs), Prime Minister’s Office was the Chief Guest of the webinar, and emphasised on the close relation of women and natural resources – and how targeted awareness raising towards women would not only enable them to formally enter the sector, but the nation would also benefit from the sensitisation and active participation of women as energy conscious citizens.