World Bank and Asian Development Bank launches ‘WePOWER India Partnership Forum’ to increase workforce participation of women in energy sector

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NEW DELHI, Nov. 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The WePOWER India Partnership Forum, held through a virtual platform on November 9, 2021, launched the efforts to scale up the South Asia Women in Power Sector Professional Network (WePOWER) in India. This important initiative was attended by 168 key energy sector stakeholders. The event was organized by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank in association with the India Smart Grid Forum (ISGF).

India is significantly investing in clean energy, grid modernization, and digitalisation of its utilities. Consequently, job profiles in the Indian energy sector are evolving with more emphasis on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and renewable energy solutions. There is a growing demand for skilled human resources to fill these new green jobs. Women can help to fill this skills gap required for the energy transition. However, the participation of women in the energy sector remains very low. To address this, the energy sector must attract, develop and retain talented women professionals.

The World Bank is committed to promoting gender equality in the Indian electricity sector. Towards this goal, the World Bank, in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank, launched the WePOWER in February 2019. WePOWER is a network of 28 energy sector utilities and organizations committed to implementing systematic and incremental gender activities to support workforce participation of women in energy projects and utilities, and promote normative change for women and girls in Science Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education.

The launch ceremony was preceded over by the honourable Mr. Vishal Kapoor, Joint Secretary – Distribution, Ministry of Power, Govt of India; Mr. Junaid Kamal Ahmad, Country Director, World Bank; and Mr. Reji Kumar Pillai, President, India Smart Grid Forum (ISGF); Among other dignitaries were Mr. Guangzhe Chen, Regional Director for Infrastructure, South Asia, World Bank; Mr. Takeo Konishi, Country Director, ADB; and Ms. Reena Suri, Executive Director, ISGF.

Mr. Vishal Kapoor, Joint Secretary – Distribution, Ministry of Power, Govt of India mentioned that the Ministry of Power recognises that “Women will be needed to fill the increasing talent demand in the power sector, and their participation in technical and professional roles can contribute greatly to the sector’s effectiveness” and “Indian power sector has made progresses in terms of diversifying the work place and increasing women’s participations, including in leadership positions.” He added that,  “In a survey of 28 Indian DISCOMs it was found that 4/5th of them have at least one female at top positions. This represents the growth of women’s participation in power sector”

A panel discussion on Expanding Job Opportunities in India’s Clean Energy Transition’ was moderated by Simon J. Stolp, Practice Manager, South Asia Energy, World Bank, with eminent panelists from the Indian power sector such as Dr. Tripta Thakur, Director General, National Power Training Institute; Mr. Sanjay Banga, President, The Tata Power Company Limited; Dr. Praveen Saxena, Chief Executive Officer, Skill Council for Green Jobs; Ms. Gargi Chatterjea, Executive Director, CESC Limited; and Dr. Rashi Gupta, Founder & Managing Director, Vision Mechatronics Pvt. Ltd;  The panel of eminent speakers shared their views on how a diverse talent pool can be mobilized to accelerate India’s clean energy transition. Mr. Pradeep Perera, Officer-in-Charge, Energy Division, South Asia Regional Department provided the key takeaways and concluding remarks.

Tripta Thakur, Director General, NPTI said that the government and NPTI recognises the need to bring more skilled women into the power sector, and NPTI is working with various stakeholders on developing training modules best suited to achieve this goal.

Rashi Gupta, Founder & Managing Director, Vision Mechatronics Pvt. Ltd mentioned that “Not only Electricity but Human Energy needs to capitalised for women empowerment and transformation”.

Overall, the stakeholders agreed that initiatives like WePOWER are important to attracting and retaining more women in the energy sector. The initiative received a lot of appreciation, positive feedback, and interest from the participating energy sector professionals. In the coming months, WePOWER will host  in-depth meetings with prominent stakeholders from the sector to take forward the agenda of increasing women’s participation in the power sector.

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