Professional network seeks to help women find jobs

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Feb 21, 2019-

The Asian Development Bank has announced a partnership with a new professional network to promote more female practitioners in South Asia’s energy and power sector.

The Women in Power Sector Professional Network in South Asia (WePOWER) was launched in Kathmandu on Wednesday and aims to support the participation of women in energy projects and institutions, as well as promote more women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the bank said in a press statement.

The first regional conference of WePOWER opened on Wednesday with 150 attendees, including representatives of energy sector utilities and public agencies involved in projects, technical universities, women engineers and students.

The two-day event is co-hosted by the World Bank Group and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

“WePOWER is closely aligned with ADB’s broader long-term commitment embodied in its long-term strategy 2030 to remove constraints that women face in finding better jobs,” said ADB Principal Social Development Specialist Francesco Tornieri. “Although this applies to all sectors, we see the energy sector as one of the most challenging.”

Energy access and infrastructure development are critical elements in South Asia’s development. An ADB series of Gender Equality Diagnostic studies on the energy industry in South Asian countries found that women’s skills and perspectives account for a small part of job and decision-making by energy sector agencies. Gender diversity in technical and senior managerial positions is also visibly lacking.

Moreover, an assessment conducted by the World Bank in eight South Asian countries found very low female enrolment rates in engineering programmes (ranging from 0.5 percent to 31 percent), low female staff representation in utilities (2 percent to 17 percent), and an even lower percentage of women in technical roles in utilities (0.5 percent to 6 percent).

The studies identified the need for role models and family support, absence of basic facilities and transport, and presence of various forms of discrimination and harassment, the ABD said.

WePOWER is envisaged to become a vibrant and self-sustaining professional network backed by strategic partners that can provide technical and financial support. Its work programme will focus on five strategic areas—education, recruitment, development, retention, and policy and analysis. “WePOWER will provide capacity building support, networking, and mentorship for women engineers for career advancement, research to reform policies and practices, exposure to technology, recruiting opportunities, and access to information and conferences,” it said.

The World Bank Group has agreed to host the WePOWER Secretariat for an initial four years. A second Steering Committee meeting is slated to be held at the ADB headquarters in November.

Published: 21-02-2019 10:50

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